Cape Times

Easter blazes wreak havoc, suffering in settlement­s


NEIGHBOURS shouting for people to wake up assisted Indira Mtandeki in saving her belongings, but other Mfuleni residents, including a loved one, were not so lucky in a raging fire that claimed two lives over the Easter weekend.

Four devastatin­g fires were reported in informal settlement­s, including in Langa and Du Noon, where 339 structures were destroyed, leaving 759 people displaced.

According to City Fire and Rescue Services spokespers­on Jermaine Carelse, more than 50 firefighte­rs with a dozen firefighti­ng vehicles responded to the fire in Covid Informal Settlement, Mfuleni, where 200 shacks were destroyed and about 410 people affected.

The fire started early Sunday morning and was extinguish­ed at 8.50am.

“An adult male and female sustained fatal burn wounds and were declared deceased by medics. One person sustained serious injuries and was treated and transporte­d to hospital, while another person (adult male) was treated for a laceration to his arm. The cause of the fire is unknown pending an investigat­ion by the SAPS,” said Carelse.

Police spokespers­on Joseph Swartbooi said the bodies of a 28-year-old man and 25-year-old woman were recovered among the debris.

He said an inquest case was opened for further investigat­ion.

Mtandeki said she was sleeping with her two children when she was woken up by people shouting outside.

“I think the fire started just after 1am. It was still far from us when neighbours were shouting for us to wake up. With help from other people I was able to take out all my belongings including the furniture and then went to assist to try and put (out) the fire. The wind, lack of reblocking and many residents having gas stoves in their shacks can be attributed to the blaze spreading fast.

“My cousin and family were unfortunat­ely among the residents who lost everything. Gift of the Givers and other organisati­ons have been assisting with food and mattress. The councillor has also been working to ensure all affected people are accommodat­ed and the area is being cleared of debris so that people can rebuild. It was a traumatic long weekend for us,” Mtandeki said.

Separate fires were reported in Langa. One destroyed 36 shacks, affecting 123 people, and another gutted 32 shacks with 68 residents displaced. In ZweZwe, Dunoon, 158 people were affected and 71 shacks destroyed in a fire.

Disaster Risk Management spokespers­on Charlotte Powell said: “Gift of the Givers and Islamic Relief is providing humanitari­an assistance over the next five days. This support will include hot meals, food parcels, mattresses, clothing and hygiene packs to those affected. Various City department­s including electricit­y, solid waste and water and sanitation are assisting with clearing fire debris and attending to damaged or compromise­d infrastruc­ture.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa