Fire burns 150 shacks in Alex

400 res­i­dents left home­less

Sowetan - - News - By Pen­well Dlamini

Hun­dreds of peo­ple were left home­less in Greenville, Alexan­dra, north­ern Jo­han­nes­burg, yesterday af­ter a fire swept through their shacks.

An es­ti­mated 150 shacks went up in flames leav­ing about 400 home­less.

Res­i­dents said the fire started at one of the shacks not far from Lon­don Road at about 1pm and spread through the area.

At 6pm, fire­fight­ers were still bat­tling the blaze as many res­i­dents were try­ing to sal­vage what was left of their pos­ses­sions.

Zameka Sig­wili said when she saw some smoke in her shack she thought it was an elec­tric ca­ble that was burn­ing.

She rushed to switch off the elec­tric­ity not know­ing the worst had just started.

“When we got out the flames were ac­tu­ally here. Our neigh­bours came out to help us take what we could move out of the shack in a rush. We could not take ev­ery­thing.

“We were only able to take out the clothes, fridge, tele­vi­sion set and the wardrobe as you can see. Other things went up in flames. Our ID doc­u­ments, ev­ery­thing,” said Sig­wili.

Jo­han­nes­burg Emer­gency Man­age­ment Ser­vices spokesper­son Nana Radebe said a call was re­ceived from the area just be­fore 4pm.

“When we ar­rived there was a blaze ev­ery­where. Ob­vi­ously, the fire was spreading to the other side [of the road]. The ma­jor prob­lem was that there are no fire hy­drants [in the area] … Fire en­gines had to go in and out, re­plen­ish from about a kilo­me­tre away and come back. We had three fire en­gines do­ing that for about an hour,” said Radebe.

Last night, dis­as­ter man­age­ment was on the scene to cap­ture data and help the af­fected res­i­dents. No in­juries or fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported at the time of go­ing to print last night.

Zingisile Sandla was one of the peo­ple who tried to put out the fire when it started.

“I went out to help with wa­ter buck­ets. Only one shack was on fire when I went out to as­sist. But be­cause the tap wa­ter is far so the fire gained mo­men­tum and burnt more shacks. My shack burnt down too,” he said.

He said he was only able to take a few items such as ID doc­u­ments and the rest of his pos­ses­sions went up in flames.

/ VELI NHLAPO

A res­i­dent watches as his shack goes up in smoke in Alexan­dra, Jo­han­nes­burg, yesterday.

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