The Valhalla Park informal settlement in Cape Town will be fast-tracked for an upgrade after a fire there left around 1?500 people homeless. Safety and security mayoral committee member Jean-Pierre Smith said around 350 corrugated iron houses were destroyed in the fire yesterday morning. Eight council rental units were also damaged. Smith said 23 people, including nine fire fighters, were treated for smoke inhalation. The city had arranged with its insurers to start emergency repair work. The disaster site would be cleared later today. On Thursday, engineers would start surveying the land and marking out plots. “This process will include the implementation of fire breaks, installation of water points, safe electricity connections and other basic municipal services,” Smith said. “The city intends rebuilding the fire victims’ homes during the course of the next week, using enhanced building kits.” The local community hall had been opened to provide emergency shelter, and the disaster risk management centre would provide a Christmas day lunch to those affected. The public could donate fresh or tinned food, blankets, personal hygiene products and household contents. These donations could be dropped off at the nearest fire station or at the Nooitgedacht Civic Centre in Valhalla Park. The provincial ANC Youth League and Congress of SA Students said they would visit the area later today to survey the damage and offer assistance. Smith urged residents to be responsible when using electrical appliances and to exercise caution with open flames.