Philippi men brave bad weather to guard remaining possessions after fire
HELP is slowly coming in for those affected by the recent deadly blaze which killed one person, injured multiple firefighters and displaced over 500 families in Jim se Bos informal settlement in Philippi.
This is according to the director of Youth Solutions Africa, John Philmon, who said that the situation was “terrible” as the resources to provide aid to the families were coming in slowly, following the fire on Sunday.
“The challenge is that there's no material and due to the rain everything is just delayed.
“I have worked in this community for years and I personally know the residents, and seeing them with nothing but the clothes on their backs is heartbreaking.”
Philmon said that a local crèche and church were housing young children and mothers while some of the men had to sleep outside, keeping watch of whatever property was left at the site of the fire.
The City's Fire and Rescue Services said that 72 firefighters and 17 firefighting vehicles were dispatched to battle the blaze, which took just under nine hours to extinguish.
Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Edward Bosch said that crews were alerted to the fire at about 11.50pm on Sunday.
“Approximately 200 informal dwellings were destroyed, leaving numerous persons displaced.
“Sadly, there was one fatality, that of a person of unknown age and gender. Three firefighters were injured and one was taken to hospital,” he said.
Spokesperson for disaster risk management Chantel Alexander said 564 people were displaced but no emergency shelter was activated and residents opted to stay with family and friends.
“Humanitarian assistance has been provided in the form of hot meals and water for this evening from Gift of the Givers.
“Sassa (the South African Social Security Agency) will be providing brunch and supper for three days as well as mattresses, blankets and vanity packs. The department of social development will assist with psychosocial support for the affected persons.”
Gift of The Givers project manager Ali Sablay said: “We will be assisting with essentials for the babies, baby packs and food as well as water, for the next three days. We will be on the ground assisting with Covid-19 packs such as masks and other things.”
Meanwhile, police have opened an inquest after a body was recovered on Lion's Head on Monday near the site where a fire had broken out on Sunday.
Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi said: “The body of a 53-year-old man was recovered on Lion's Head on Monday. The body of the deceased was airlifted by a helicopter from the slopes of the mountain.”
SANParks spokesperson Rey Thakhuli said that the circumstances leading up to the man's death were being investigated by police.
To assist the displaced Philippi families, send a WhatsApp message to Youth Solutions Africa on 066 1442 451.