WATCH: 'My R2 000 which I had in the house is also burnt' - Alex blaze victim

2019-03-06 17:30

Hundreds of Sjwetla informal settlement residents in Alexandra had to stay out of work on Wednesday to try and pick up the parts of their burnt homes after a fire destroyed more than 100 shacks in the area on Tuesday

Clean-up operations were under way from as early as 06:00 as residents tried to collect corrugated iron and other materials that were not badly burnt.

"Everything is burnt. Everything from the house is burnt. My R2 000 which I had in the house is also burnt," a devastated resident, Idia Manuel, told News24.

Manuel said everything was a mess when the fire erupted at midday on Tuesday.

They weren't able to save anything from the blaze.

She pleaded for someone to help her fix her shack, saying that she had nowhere else to go.

Another resident, Anthon Mhlanga, said he was at work when he received a call telling him that his shack was on fire. He rushed home to try and save his belongings but it was already too late.

"I came back in a hurry and found the fire blazing. There was nothing I could do here because it was blazing. All the homes are burnt; beds; all of my things," said Mhlanga.

READ: Number of shacks destroyed in Alex fire rises to more than 100

The worried residents are pleading with the government to provide conducive housing and temporary accommodation while clean-up operations are ongoing.

No injuries were reported.

"We are okay, we slept well," added Mhlanga.

The City's disaster management and other organisations were on the scene on Wednesday registering affected residents.

Disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers responded with 200 blankets and mattresses for the victims on Tuesday night.

While some residents had to seek refuge at friends' places, others were accommodated in local halls and creches.

Disaster Management and Gift of the Givers have also set up a command centre at the village.

"A number of victims have taken shelter in the Gift of the Givers 'Green Village' since last night. The village is in close proximity to the disaster area," Gift of the Givers' Imtiaz Sooliman said.

Shoprite/Checkers was also on scene feeding affected people.  

While initial reports suggested that the fire was started when a City Power pylon collapsed, witnesses and preliminary investigations revealed otherwise, City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said.

City Power will now probe whether the pylon structure was weakened or possibly vandalised by residents who had built under it, making it susceptible to collapse.

Mangena said pylons were meant to withstand the harshest weather conditions.

"Our investigation will look [at why] it was easy for this pylon to fall and it happened so quickly," Mangena said.

He said the damage so far was estimated at R5m.

Eskom will remove the burnt lines. Residents whose structures were not affected by the blaze, but which are built below the lines, have been asked to vacate the area so that the lines can be fixed.

"We are meeting with disaster management and the Department of Housing later. They are here as well, also looking at what they can do. What we are going to appeal to them is that people should not be allowed to rebuild under these lines. People should [have] proper and safe accommodation where they do not have threats of electric wires above their heads," said Mangena. 

City Power technicians worked throughout the night to restore power to affected areas, following the pylon collapse.

Read more on:    city power  |  johannesburg  |  housing  |  fires
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