Fire burns down 100 houses

2012-11-11 22:43

Johannesburg - At least 100 houses burnt down in a raging fire at St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape, Kouga Municipality said on Sunday.

"The firefighters report that 100 houses have been burnt down and they are still battling with the flames because of the strong westerly wind," said said municipal spokesperson Laura-Leigh Randall.

Ten fire engines had been brought to fight the flames and more had been called in from the Nelson Mandela Bay and Koukamma municipalities to help.

"The cause of the fire is not known, but the fire started at about 17:30 at Royal Wharf developments, which is mainly townhouses," she said.

All residents in the area had been asked to evacuate and a temporary joint operations centre had been set up at the local police station.

Firefighters were still battling the blaze at 22:00.

Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts

  • gvangreunen - 2012-11-11 22:51

    thankfully a high percentage of these houses are holiday homes, somewhat reducing the risk to people and animals, but still a hell of a tragedy!

      PrettyUsefulArt - 2012-11-11 23:06

      Indeed. Glad I'm not the owner of an insurance company right now.

      mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-12 01:25

      Those houses all have thatch roofs - it is the rule of St Francis Bay - I am not sure if new developements nearby have the same rule applied, though. When the wind gets up at that part of the coast, which is often, it blows like hell. This must be a nighmare for all concerned. Hope all are safe at least. Lots of retired people down there, but yes, also many empty holiday homes. Awful heartbreak, a tragedy indeed. Unique coastal forest close by too.

      luther.kingsley.5 - 2012-11-12 05:43

      I would never buy a thatch-roof or wooden house, history has shown how dangerous these ancient building materials are - you might as well build your house from match sticks.

      mike.bundy.73 - 2012-11-12 07:21

      @BrainCandy: You must be joking. Owners of insurance companies are some of the richest,most well-off people in the country. This is a tiny drop in an enormous barrel and won't affect them at all.

      JacquesClaassen - 2012-11-12 08:41

      @Rustic Not all of the houses are Thatch, the building rule is white walls with black roofs. The people either use thatch or black tiles to do this.

      andrew.ruck.750 - 2012-11-12 08:57

      Mike I'm pretty sure that insurance companies are owned by their shareholders.. Did you know that means you can buy and own part of an insurance company too? Don't make ignorant comments.. 100 x multimillion rand houses means a huge payout for the insurance company to make!

      Billy - 2012-11-12 09:13

      BrainCandy, Mike, Andrew. Reinsurance. Insurance for insurance companies. Like Aspen-re.

      patrick.mbense - 2012-11-12 11:14

      Haha! Whose got the bigger dick? Stop trying to show off who knows more about insurance.

      mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-12 13:08

      Thanks for the correction, Mike

  • AlexWallerSA - 2012-11-11 23:01

    I hope everybody is accounted for and safely out of their homes.

      jacques.dutoit.969 - 2012-11-12 04:24

      Who started the fire?

      hrh.majiuana - 2012-11-12 14:02

      @Jacques, one of the houses was allegedly used as a meth-lab!

  • ali.makhadzi - 2012-11-12 00:04

    Not shacks?!? Wow, for once... May all b well.

  • charmaine.rowlands - 2012-11-12 00:31

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the community AND the Fire fighters and EMS personnel. I hope everyone, with they animals, were evacuated safely. So, so sorry about your homes.

  • anele.nongcula - 2012-11-12 00:53

    Wind is still going crazy here in Summerstrand, hope no one has been been injured or worse.

  • tolene - 2012-11-12 01:29

    Oh I really hope everyone is safe and all their pets are safe with them. What a terrible thing to happen to ANYONE!!!! Thanks to all the firefighters and volunteers helping. Prayers for everyones safety

  • dnelson23 - 2012-11-12 01:32

    Such a tragic. Just come to show how mother nature reminds us of who's in control. My prayers goes out to the owners who have lost millions I would say. Big ups to the guys that's fighting the fire and helping with immediate care. So far no reports of deaths, which I think is a great job.

      tracey.j.clevenger - 2012-11-12 03:09

      I, too, have been praying... on the other side of the world. In Alabama, USA. My friends have been praying too! Such a tragedy. And such a terrible thing just because someone was having a braai. Just shows how easily things can happen. Praying for ALL.

      andrew.ruck.750 - 2012-11-12 08:51

      Does Mother Nature prefer boerie or chops on the Braai?

  • Erna - 2012-11-12 05:58

    Just think - compare this to a shack fire and a hundred burn down - just as bad for the people concerned. Maybe we'll show a bit more sympathy. Another thing - why have a braai in such wind? When the houses are thatch? - 2012-11-12 06:15

      That wind just suddenly picked up. I live in PE. One moment its sunny and quiet, next moment every door and window starts banging.

      Willie Olivier - 2012-11-12 07:57

      How much does a shack cost and how much does one of these houses cost? I'll tell you! Many, many years of hard work and bond payments! Use your brains and calculator! Fool!

      zimbobwe.mugabe - 2012-11-12 08:46

      Willie Oliver fool use your brain and calculator it's the same with shacks. For you it looks like nothing but for the people who paid for them it's years and years of hard work and saving. Do you you know how much this people get paid??? For them to save money to built a shack is a big sacrifice so don't look at the world in your stupid tainted glasses!!!!

  • chris.devos.758 - 2012-11-12 07:06

    This is a tragedy....just before the festive period...

  • max.maxwell - 2012-11-12 07:37

    Someone had a braai in gale-force winds? WTF? That shows a level of moronic irresponsibility seldom seen, thank God!

  • ina.f.chatwind - 2012-11-12 07:42

    Oh no. Hope there was no deaths. Mostly holiday homes I think.

  • denise.knight.14289 - 2012-11-12 07:57

    Not all the houses were thatched. In fact, as far as I can see using Google maps, one entire circle of houses Beauvalon Pl. (Place?) had tiled roofs. The problem is, when a fire gets hot enough, everything burns. News 24 permitting, here are the links, so you can see for yourself:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl&authuser=0 If links don't work (or are missing) just go to (no www beforehand) and use Google maps. Looks like a lovely place to retire someday. :)

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-11-12 10:07

      It is a lovely place to retire Denise and many people have holiday homes there and travel from Gauteng for their Christmas holidays. The difference here is that most of these homes will carry insurance as they are mortgaged luxury places and the owners will also have alternatives, whereas when shacks are burned down because of the informal way in which they are built and the fact that they are often not legally supposed to be there the people who only have those dwellings lose everything and have no recourse to insurance. They literally have to begin again from scratch to purchase first shelter and then contents. In these fires lives are frequently lost as emergency services cannot reach the people affected the most. At leastwith this latest disaster which was surely an accident these people will be assisted both financially and also be reasonably accessible for emergency services.

  • ray.molekoa.5 - 2012-11-12 08:28

    The incompetent ANC at it again with someone, probably a cadre, having a braai in windy conditions . Or am I used to blaming them for everything ?

      ThembaRadebe - 2012-11-12 09:21

      are u always this stupid or today is just a special day? people like u shud hv been caught in between that fire n burn

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-11-12 10:09

      This is perhaps meant as humour but it is in poor taste. In this instance it is Mother Nature to blame with a bit of human assistance.

      mary.kircher - 2012-11-12 11:47

      @ray, the incompetent ANC can be blamed in a roundabout kind of way - they closed down the fire station there, and the nearest one is 40 minutes away ...... not a very wise decision in a community of so many houses with thatch roofs

      xolanit.ntuli.9 - 2012-11-13 08:43

      Try another joke dude, this one is not amusing/funny at all

  • Duncan Olivier - 2012-11-12 17:16

    It is always sad when anybodies hgouse burns down!

  • sterets - 2012-11-13 09:02

    In an unpredictable and ever changing climatic environment, nature can cause severe damage to property, as was seen in the wind driven fires at the thatched chalets of Sondela Nature Reserve and more recently in the raging fires engulfing thatched residences in St Francis Bay, leaving around 100 families homeless! The recent hailstorms in parts of Gauteng causing millions of Rands in damage, is further confirmation of the risks properties are exposed to. While hindsight is 20/20 vision, a lot of the tragedy and damage could have been avoided and contained if all the positive attributes of lightweight stone coated steel roof tiles like Metrotile, were known to the owners. This affordable, lightweight stone-coated roof system is ideal for use on new projects and re-roofs, specifically for thatch and old “zink” roofs, creating an effective weather barrier, removing the high maintenance requirements and shielding the property from fire and hail. This can also save owners of thatched properties around 30% on their insurance premiums. Because they are far lighter than traditional roofing, they also don’t require the same heavy (and expensive) roof structure and being recyclable they are in tune with current sustainability trends.

  • michael.ginsberg.90 - 2012-11-13 10:14

    Graham Hynes and Raymond Robertson lost their homes and we need to help in some way to ease their lost Firewire are donating a taj Model so please everyone buy a tichet and lets ease their pain . Details thru Zig Zag thanks ginz

  • michael.ginsberg.90 - 2012-11-13 10:17

    graham Hynes and Raymond Robertson lost their houses in the fire. firewire surfboards is donating a taj model so please everyone lets buy a ticket and help our two friends out in their time of need, details thru Zig Zag thanks

  • patsy.smith.125 - 2012-12-24 12:58

    This is the 24th of December. This item is NOT news. It's about a month old. Do we not have ANYTHING happening in our country now?

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