The community of Etshatshalazeni, in Philippi, is battling to come to terms with the death of a mother and her three children on Monday night, after a shack they were sleeping in caught fire.Nomsa Dyantyi and her three children Vuyani,10, Neliswa,8, and Aphelele,4, died tragically in their sleep, while her only surviving daughter, Thembela,14, was reportedly watching television next door. At least four shacks were destroyed in the blaze. And the cause of the fire is unknown. The incident is the latest in a series of fire related deaths in the townships. At the beginning of the month three people, Mawonga Mpekula, 55, Nozibele Mcunukelwa, 55, and an unidentified woman died in Lower Crossroads of suspected smoke inhalation. In August coal fumes claimed the lives of Noncedile Masina, Sisipho Ntshinga and a family friend only known as Simamkele, in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha. Commenting on Monday’s fire, Dumisani Mjila, 41, the children’s uncle, said he was not around when the fire started. “I got here late when the fire was already out of control. I did not only lose my belongings, I also lost my brother’s children. They were like mine,” he said.Mjila said he was lost for words. He described the deceased children as “good” and “very respectful”.A neighbour Thozamile Liwani, 39, said all they heard were the screams. “We heard people shouting ‘fire’ and by the time we arrived it was too strong,” he said.Liwani said they were informed by Thembela that her mother and the three siblings were trapped inside. “She was lucky because she was watching TV next door. She is one who alerted us about people inside,” he said.Liwani claimed that the fire would not have affected so many people if the firefighters had arrived early.The City’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Theo Layne confirmed the fire. He said firefighters responded to the fire around 21:00 in Dimbaza Street, in Browns Farm Philippi. He said four informal structures were destroyed.Layne said two fire engines and 14 fire fighters were dispatched to extinguish the fire. He said the case had been forward to the police for further investigation.