Monday, November 19, 2012

80 left homeless by shack blaze

Cape Town - At least 80 people were left homeless on Sunday after a fire ripped through an informal settlement in Gugulethu, destroying 40 houses.

There were no fatalities. One man was slightly injured.

Residents of Kanana informal settlement were left destitute after the fire left them with little or no possessions.

Residents claimed that the fire resulted from a stove that had been left on by one of their neighbours, but city fire and rescue services spokesman Theo Layne said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Layne said 18 fire engines were sent to the scene. They managed to contain and extinguish the blaze .

The densely populated informal settlement experienced a similar fire in 2005, according to residents.

Bongiswa Sithloko, who shared a shack with five family members, said they were left with only the clothes on their backs.

“We got here when the fire was already big… we tried, but we couldn’t get any of our stuff out… and now we don’t know what we will do.”

Amanda Zamyoli and her boyfriend managed to get one of their beds out before the fire got to their home.

“We saw a fire in our section and ran and we tried to put it out with hosepipes but it wasn’t working. The residents quickly got tired,” Zamyoli said.

She said they suspected the man responsible for the fire ran away after hearing residents were angry at him for leaving his stove on.

“Even if we catch him, it won’t bring our houses back,” said Zamyoli.

Resident Buntu Seth was one of the lucky few – his home is close to where the fire started, but it escaped any damage. “I thought it was a fire from another part of the informal settlement and I started praying. When I got home I was so glad my shack was not burnt,” Seth said.

The city’s Disaster Risk Management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the residents would be provided with building materials.

“There hasn’t been a hall set aside for them for the night, but the building materials are being delivered and they will be able to rebuild their homes,” Solomons-Johannes said.

He added that the residents would most likely stay on their plots in fear of them being occupied by others.

Only one man was reported injured during the ordeal.

“One man was treated on the scene after being electrocuted, but he is fine now,” Solomons-Johannes said.

- Cape Argus

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