News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday May 20th 2019

Quick thinking residents save shacks from burning

Cebisile Joseph and his cousin Zamekhaya Yase, who got slightly injured putting out the blaze in Joseph's house, lost everything to the flames, but luckily the fire did not spread to surrounding backyard shacks. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

Quick thinking by some residents in Du Noon township prevented what could have been a major fire disaster, by quickly extinguishing a blaze that burnt out an RDP house surrounded by backyard shacks.It happened on Saturday afternoon when the owner of the house, Cebisile Joseph, 55, who is on tuberculosis treatment and needs crutches, was relaxing with his neighbour in his yard on Ingwe Street.

Suddenly the friends heard what sounded like a small explosion inside the house.

It was at this point that neighbours came running into the yard with buckets of water. They’d seen smoke coming out of Joseph’s house and were rushing to put out the fire before it spread, said community leader Xaso Siyabulela 40, who was the man who had been chatting to Joseph.

Siyabulela said there was no time to call the fire department but the quick response by residents, who swarmed to the house with buckets, managed to put the fire out within 30 minutes.

“People were not called to help. They just volunteered. The owner of the house doesn’t work and he is sick,” said Siyabulela.

Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the blaze, but all Joseph’s possessions, including his TB medication and ID book were destroyed.

Joseph said there was no-one in the house he shared with his cousin when the fire started and did not know what could have caused the blaze.

Resident Zandile Duna, 35, who braved helped douse the flames, said she saw dark smoke billowing from Joseph’s house and by the time she had filled a bucket with water, other people were already dousing the flames from surrounding shack roofs.

“People got on top of shacks and extinguished the fire. Everything in the house got burnt though,” said Duna

Joseph said he was thankful to the residents for helping to put out the flames.

He said it was painful to lose all his belongings, which he estimated to be worth about R20 000.

“I don’t even get a grant. I don’t work,” said Joseph. — Peter Luhanga, West Cape News

Tags: Du Noon, rdp, township

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