Wupperthal blaze: Damaged buildings, heritage sites to be demolished

Following a devastating fire that gutted houses and buildings in Wupperthal near Clanwilliam last week, plans are afoot to demolish all structures that are beyond repair.

The blaze, which is being investigated by police, started on New Year's weekend leaving half of the historical village, including the Moravian Mission Station, shops and 53 homes destroyed.

Furthermore, at least 200 people have been left homeless. Police are investigating a case of arson.

READ: Wupperthal fire: Police investigating arson case after fire ravaged historic town

According to a statement by Wilfred Schrevian Evan Solomons-Johannes, at the directorate for urban management at the City of Cape Town, an agreement was reached on Friday to completely demolish all gutted buildings in the Cederburg town in the Western Cape.

Solomons-Johannes has also spoken on behalf of the Moravian Church.

Heritage buildings to be demolished

He added that approval has also been obtained from the Moravian church and affected homeowners that the gutted buildings be demolished in the interest of public safety as the extent of the damages were severe and beyond repair, according to the assessments conducted by professional structural engineers.

The structures that are to be demolished include heritage buildings.

Solomons-Johannes said that a team of experts have been commissioned to conduct an assessment for houses that had asbestos and to carefully implement the removal and disposal in line with environmental health requirement prior to the demolition work of the buildings.

Water and electricity restored to city

Meanwhile, the electricity supply was restored on Friday afternoon, with the water and sanitation within the town back in working order and managed by the church.

The school year will also start a week later due to the demolition and recovery work that will be taking place in the coming week.

The department of Human Settlements of the Western Cape has also conducted assessments on the need for emergency housing for the fire victims, said Solomons-Johannes.

ALSO READ: Devastated Wupperthal appeals for aid: How you can help

"A suitable site has been identified within Wupperthal and spatial planning and design efforts are underway.

"The Cederberg Municipality is procuring and will provide a tent and temporary toilets for the emergency housing site."

The Moravian Church has also thanked the public, churches, organisations and businesses for the overwhelming support to provide relief efforts to the Wupperthal fire victims.

Town restriction

Solomons-Johannes also said that access to the town has been restricted and that from Monday, the Wupperthal Moravian Mission Station will be restricted due to heavy vehicles, machinery, plant and equipment that will be moving into the town to commence with demolition work.

"The police authorities will be establishing a control post that will only permit emergency and essential vehicles and residents access and egress to the town."

"Strict control measures will be implemented and motorists including tourists are encouraging to avoid visiting the town or to make use of the road/(s) to minimise disruption on the nearby roads."

"Members of the public who wishes to deliver donations to the town are advised that access to the town is restricted."

"It is encouraged that donations to be delivered to the Clanwilliam Traffic Department situated in Hospital Street where a donations management centre has been established," Solomons-Johannes concluded.

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