Raisethorpe residents lose everything in fire

2017-08-02 06:01

MORE than 20 families were affected when a fire broke out in an informal settlement at Raistehorpe on Friday night.

It is alleged the fire was started by a paraffin stove that was left on in a house, resulting in 15 houses burning down.

When Maritzburg Fever visited the area on Sunday, residents were sitting outside, others had started to rebuild already.

A resident told Fever that since Friday no one had come to assist them, the only person who came was their ward councillor, Renesha Jugmaham, who brought food and blankets.

“We have nothing, everything was burnt. When the fire started in one of the houses we all tried to help, but as we tried to put out the blaze we saw other houses were beginning to burn.

“We didn’t get a chance to get important documents like identity documents or children’s birth certificates [out]. We are only left with the clothes we are wearing,” she said.

Another resident said every year tragedies like this happen in their area.

“I have lived here for 15 years, nothing has changed. Fires always break out in July because it is winter and we rely on paraffin stoves.

“In the past at least three people have lost their lives, including a four-month-old baby­ because of fire.

“This is sad because no one wants to help us. We don’t want to continue living like this. We were lucky no one was seriously injured,” she said.

Residents said they would be happy to get RDP houses, even if they are small.

Jugmaham said they have met with the affected people and are doing everything they can to assist them.

“We contacted disaster management, unfortunately, they didn’t have tents to give to residents. We are assisting with uniforms and stationery, but we need to get the children’s sizes first. We also asked people to donate whatever they can - we are waiting for the response.”

Residents had already started rebuilding their homes because there is nowhere else for them to go says Jugmaham.

Msunduzi Fire Department Spokesperson Nkosinathi Mchunu said government should intervene and help people who live in the informal settlement.

“We can’t tell a person not to use a paraffin stove because it is the only thing they have for cooking or warming themselves in winter. If we tell them to stop using them in winter we have to give them an alternative.

“It unfortunate that people, who go through this experience, will remember it for the next three years. What is even more difficult is that the person who lives where the fire started will have learnt his or her lesson, but someone else will make the same mistake and people will be affected again,” said Mchunu.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha, responded: “Disaster Management has assisted the residents of Khan Road informal settlement by providing food packs, blankets and mattresses.

“We are still out of stock of tents, but we have placed an order and they will be assisted accordingly.”

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