'Viewers won't miss a beat'
The Isidingo cast was yesterday told to stay away from work until Monday, following Wednesday night's fire that obliterated its multimillion-rand set.
But even then they might still be turned away if the SABC fails to find an alternative studio to rent so that shooting can resume.
So big was the fire that Johannesburg Emergency Services firefighters were still working on the scene on Thursday evening - close to 24 hours after they were called in.
Emergency Services spokesman Niel Rooi said yesterday afternoon: "We thought we would be done by 1pm, but the incident commander decided there was still too much heat in some sections and they have to cool it all down. It's very dark in there, too, as electricity has been switched off."
SABC board chairman Ben Ngubane called an urgent meeting to assess the impact of the damage and a decision was taken to look for other studios in Johannesburg, while investigations continue.
The cause of the fire was still unknown, but arson had been ruled out, said SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago. The editing suite shared between the broadcaster's biggest soapies - Generations, Muvhango and Isidingo survived the fire, but there are concerns of water damage to three studios.
SABC group risk management spokesman Sully Motsweni said: "There won't be any shooting. We are in the process of moving the main studios elsewhere, but fortunately there is nothing pressing in the next three or four days production-wise."
She said Isidingo was shot around six weeks in advance.
"Muvhango around eight and Generations sometimes up to 10 weeks ahead."
Some cast members took to social networking sites after receiving the news.
Letoya Mangezi (who plays Andile Diale on the soapie) wrote on Facebook at around midnight last night: "Just received a call frm @isidingo production. Studio 6 burnt this evening!!!!!! OMG ... Over R100-million damage and it's STILL burning... Burnt to ashes... Only God knows..."
Kgomotso Christopher (Katlego Sibeko) said on Twitter: "@Isidingo SABC3 has confirmed news abt the fire. Tragic indeed. Thnx 4 ur messages. Will keep u posted."
Ashish Ganapersad (who plays Prada Naicker) also tweeted: "It is in our greatest hardships do we learn our true strength. Like the great Phoenix, we shall rise out of the ashes! #IsidingoFire."