Over 500 residents of Doornbach informal settlement watched in despair as a City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service fire engine ran out of water while extinguishing a blaze that left 41 people homeless on Monday late afternoon.
Fire fighters could only stand by as they watched the fire engulf shucks, including a spaza shop with gas bottles.
As residents attempted to break through a shipping container used by the spaza shop as a storage facility for gas bottles, there was a loud explosion that sent them running for cover.
No-one was injured or killed in the blaze but victims lost all their belongings, including important documents such as ID’s and children’s birth certificates.
Meanwhile, the fire fighters had called for back up and minutes later three water tankers arrived at the scene and managed to bring the flames under control.
Spaza shop owner Themba Tchatsi, 59, broke down in tears when asked how much stock he’d lost.
He could only manage to say that he was devastated at his loss.
Vuyiseka Yukutwala, 18, who shared her one roomed shack with her boyfriend, was one of the people who lost all her belongings including her ID and ATM cards.
Yukutwala said the fire started in a neighbour’s shack just after 5pm.
She said she heard an explosion and when she went out to see what was happening she saw her neighbours shack engulfed in flames which were licking her own home.
Residents stood atop shack roofs throwing buckets of water at the flames while other demolished shacks in an effort to prevent the fire from spreading further.
Doornbach community leader Phumla Sopaqa said 17 shacks had been razed to the ground and 41 people were homeless.
At the time of going to print, repeated attempts to get a comment from City’s Fire and Rescue Services Theo Layne were unsuccessful as his mobile phone and landline went unanswered. - Peter Luhanga