100 homes razed as fire rips through Site B

9 12 2010

December 08, 2010 Edition 2
JASON WARNER and |NATASHA PRINCE Staff Reporters – Cape Argus

HUNDREDS of Khayelitsha residents have been left homeless after a fire ripped through the township, destroying nearly 100 shacks over the course of several hours.

Despite widespread damage, no injuries or deaths were reported.

But elsewhere, a seven-year-old girl died when the backyard wendy house in which she was sleeping, in Agnes Road, Valhalla Park, burned down today – with the house in front.

Officials said they suspected the fire had started in the wendy house and spread to the main house. It also damaged a neighbour’s house and wendy house. No other injuries were reported.

The girl’s parents are undergoing counselling.

Cape Town Fire and Rescue spokesman Theo Layne said the Khayelitsha fire had broken out at about 6.15pm yesterday in Khayelitsha’s QQ Section in Site B.

Six fire trucks and 34 firefighters were dispatched and it took them nearly five hours to bring the fire under control.

Today, several people began clearing the rubble and preparing to rebuild their homes.

Nomalizwo Mzamo, chairwoman of the QQ Section creche, inspected the charred remains of the cr�che this morning.

A visibly emotional Mzamo said she had no idea where the 82 children enrolled at the cr�che would go to today. “I am heartbroken,” she said.

Many of the families who had been preparing to go to the Eastern Cape for the holidays said they were devastated by the loss of the gifts they had planned to take along.

Mthobeli Qona, who is the deputy president of abaHlali Basemjondolo in the Western Cape and who lives in in QQ Section, said the fire had started at a corner shack near the neighbouring Q-Section from where many QQ-Section residents run electric cables from a junction.

Many residents believed the fire had been caused by an electrical fault, he said.

Another problem, Qona said, was that the nearest tap was “a distance” away from the area, preventing residents from dousing flames.

AbaHlali member Victor Leeuw, who helped fight the blaze, blamed the government’s lack of service delivery for the residents’ losses.

The informal settlement had been in existence for 24 years and its residents should have been relocated long ago, he said. People were using illegal electrical connections because the government refused to electrify the area, which lay under overhead power lines, Leeuw said.

Meanwhile, another fire broke out at a popular city nightclub yesterday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the Vudu Lounge in Bree Street at 5.45pm. After almost two hours, the blaze was brought under control and no injuries were reported.

Yesterday the city praised firefighters for preventing Monday’s blaze on Signal Hill burning out of control.

“The city’s Fire and Rescue Services responded to a vegetation fire on the slopes of Signal Hill (on Monday) at 1.34pm. The fire raged in the area below the picnic and parking area on the top of Signal Hill, on the Sea Point side?

“Fire and Rescue Services had seven fire engines and three water tankers on scene and were assisted by two helicopters contracted to SANParks. The city’s firefighters were assisted on the ground by staff employed for the fire season, as well as by crews from SANParks and their contracted Working on Fire teams.

“Fire-fighting efforts were hampered by very strong wind conditions, difficult accessibility and a lack of water supply?”

Chief fire officer Ian Schnetler commended “staff, and the supporting agencies, on a job well done”.

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