Masiphumelele ravaged by fire

The devastation after the fire.

Masiphumelele will be declared a local-disaster area after a fire swept through the township on Thursday night destroying at least 1 000 shacks.

Mayor Dan Plato said the emergency gazetting of the local disaster would take about a week, and thereafter funds would be available for relief material.

Fanned by the strong south easter, the fire was extinguished at 1am on Friday, according to Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse.

The Kommetjie Road fire brigade was alerted at about 4.15pm on Thursday to the rapidly spreading fire in Masemola Street. Mr Carelse said additional resources were called in and eight firefighting trucks and 40 firefighters were on scene.

Police had to control an unruly crowd interfering with firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze, he said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

According to Reverend John Thomas, from Living Hope, “the scene was devastating” and the fire was still smouldering on Firday morning. He estimated that 45 000 people had been left destitute.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi visited the scene of the fire on Friday morning and said the City’s solid waste management department would clear the debris so sites could be demarcated.

The fire victims, he said, would be issued with proof-of-residence certificates to enable them rebuild and be issued with emergency kits.

Because of national government budget cuts, the City no longer gave rebuilding kits to fire-and-flood victims outside of declared disasters, he said.

Community leader Dumsani Nhlapo said the fire had started in C-Section, known as the Wetlands. He said he did not know what had caused the fire.

Living Hope is in need of tinned food, baby food, baby clothes, hygiene items, masks, furniture, bedding, blankets, eating utensils, plates, bowls and volunteers to help pack and distribute items.

Drop off donations or visit www.livinghope.co.za, or call 082 465 9067 for more information.