Three families were left homeless after their backyard rooms in 15th Street in Kensington caught fire on the morning of Sunday 8 October.Two shacks and a three-room house were burnt, leaving eight people without roofs over their heads. It is not clear what caused the fire and authorities say they are investigating it.The victims were not home when the fire started. A member of one of the families reportedly noticed flames coming from next door when she got back from the shops. She called the owner of the shack and they tried to put the flames out, but they were too late.Naziem Abrahams says: “We used buckets of water to try and put it out, but it was getting worse, we could not manage it. We removed a few items from the lady’s room and we ran away.”Richard Bosman, executive director of safety and security of the City of Cape Town, says municipal officials have given the families material to rebuild their homes. He says the City’s Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to the fire on Sunday at 10:27. Two fire engines and 14 firefighters were sent to the scene. Bosman says: “Staff extinguished the fire in just under an hour and a half. Three wood and iron structures were affected. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this stage. Eight people were displaced by the fire. No injuries were reported.”He says the City’s disaster risk management centre conducted an assessment after “which one of the City’s non-governmental partners was activated to provide humanitarian relief [and] the City will also provide kits to allow residents to rebuild their structures”.“It was devastating and the thought of losing everything was unbearable. We are now trying to start afresh but without jobs it is difficult,” says Abrahams.“I still do not know how it started. I was not there and I cannot think of anything that could possibly cause fire in my room as I was not cooking that morning.”Shania Julies says it is still difficult to come to terms with the loss and having to rebuild their lives from scratch. She says they lost everything in the fire, including documents of all three her family members.Julies says: “I used to help other fire victims in the area and never thought I would see the day myself. Now I know how it feels, but luckily the community and the church have come through for us. I would like to thank everyone who is helping us during this time.”The families are temporarily living with neighbours. Children have received help from the school in the form of uniforms and books.Bosman says the City continues to conduct awareness campaigns around fire safety. He says they encourage the public to store the number for the public emergency contact centre on their cellphones. “Residents can alert the emergency services by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.” In another incident the municipality reported that Fire and Rescue Service responded to a grass and bush fire in Kensington on Friday. The cause of that fire is also undetermined at this stage. Sergeant David Stemmet, Kensington police spokesperson, says no cases have been opened in either incident but police are aware of the fires. “With a veld fire we only follow up if there has been injuries or properties affected. In this case it was just a veld fire.”V The City of Cape Town has a list of fire safety tips for the public at www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/safety-in-the-home/basic-household-safety/fire-precautions-in-the-home.