News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday May 21st 2018

Residents’ quick action prevents blaze from spreading

Quick action by residents of Doornbach informal settlement prevented a shack fire spreading beyond five shacks on Sunday night. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

About 100 Du Noon residents managed to extinguish a shack fire that left 30 people, including young children, homeless on Sunday night.

Quick action by men living in Du Noon’s Doornbach informal settlement prevented a fire that started at 6.42 on Sunday night from spreading beyond five shacks.

Men braved the blazing heat to demolish surrounding shacks to prevent the fire from spreading and shovelled sand onto the flames while women formed a human chain to distribute buckets of water.

Fire fighters had trouble getting to the scene of the fire as the alleyways between shacks were too narrow for the fire-fighting vehicles.

However, City of Cape Town fire department spokesperson Theo Layne confirmed that five shacks were destroyed, leaving 30 people homeless.

One of the 30 is Nonhlahla Siko, a mother of three children aged one, three and 15.

Siko, in whose shack the fire started, she had lost everything to the flames, including her Identity Documents and her children’s birth certificates, school text books and school uniforms.

She said she was particularly upset because she was unemployed and her family survived on Child Support Grants and all the groceries she had bought earlier that day were burnt.

She said she had locked her shack and was on her way to visit her cousin in the informal settlement when her neighbour called her and said her home was on fire..

“Everything is lost. I’m left with what I’m wearing,” said Siko.

Similarly her neighbour Khuthaswa Sixawe, a mother of three children aged two, five, and 15 was distraught at the loss of her home and she too had lost all her belongings.

The fire spread so quickly that efforts to salvage anything were fruitless, said Sixawe.

“We suspect that a gas stove exploded,” she said referring to the cause of the fire.

Layne said because shacks were close to each other it was difficult for big fire engines to access the blaze.

He said the fire was completely extinguished by 7:30 pm and the cause of the fire was yet to be determined.

There weren’t any other fire incidents across the metro at the weekend, he said. - Peter Luhanga

Tags: City of Cape Town, Doornbach informal settlement, Du Noon, Khuthaswa Sixawe, Nonhlahla Siko, Theo Layne

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