Help on the way for fire victims

2019-05-28 06:01
The debris from the fire that consumed 119 structures in Masiphumelele.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

The debris from the fire that consumed 119 structures in Masiphumelele.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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A request for humanitarian relief has been sent out by the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Department for more than 200 Masiphumelele residents who lost their homes in the early hours of Sunday 19 May.

A fire that broke out as many were sleeping destroyed over 100 shacks in the informal settlement.

Disaster spokesperson Charlotte Powell confirmed that 119 structures were destroyed in the blaze that erupted at about 01:00. The fire has affected about 211 residents.

Jermaine Carelse, Cape Town Fire and Rescue service spokesperson, said: “After 01:00, the City’s Fire and Rescue Service received a call reporting numerous informal structures alight in Masiphumelele. Eight fire engines, a rescue vehicle and 36 firefighters were in attendance.”

He says it took five hours to completely douse the fire.

One resident Belinda Sekiso says she was woken by the sounds of people screaming. “It was the middle of the night and I woke up and saw the house was burning. I heard someone saying it’s burning and I had to run out with my children,” she says.

She and all the other people who lost their homes have lost everything. “I have nothing – ID, certificate, kids’ clothes, nothing. I’m sleeping in the church now.”

A friend who was assisting with the repairs of the structures on Tuesday 21 May, Anett Mabala says: “Not everything will be completed (today) because it’s late, but tomorrow it will be better.”

She estimates that the bulk of the repairs should be completed by the weekend.

While fire and rescue services have not yet found the cause of the blaze, Sekiso says that the residents have a theory about what may have caused it. “They say it was the candles,” she says.

No fatalities were reported and residents are able to use the Masiphumelele community hall for shelter.


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