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By Caryn Dolley
In the sixth fire to have swept through a Cape Town informal settlement this year, about 30 homes have been destroyed in Barcelona, Gugulethu, leaving 140 people homeless. No one was reported injured.
Five fire engines and two water tankers brought the blaze under control within 45 minutes of its having broken out at 3.30am. It is believed to have been sparked by a burning candle that fell over.
"I heard knocking on the door early this morning and I knew something was wrong," said Nonzukiso Qhantsi.
The fire is believed to have started in the shack next to hers.
"Everything I had was destroyed - I couldn't save anything," Qhantsi said.
Patricia Ncewu said: "I'm very sad about this. I have no clothes and no food left."
Ncewu had begun building a new shelter with materials she had bought with the last of her money. "I have four children and they need a place to sleep tonight," she said.
Another mother of four, Glades Mkhafu, said she had been storing packets of chips and sweets which she sold during the day.
"It all burnt. I don't know how I'm going to make money now," she said.
She and Ncewu are worried because their children are to begin the new school year on Wednesday and their uniforms have been burned.
Police were investigating the fire, spokesperson Randall Stoffels said.
He confirmed that it was believed "a burning candle in one of the homes fell over and started the fire".
Johan Minnie, of the city's Disaster Management, said meals and blankets would be provided by the Red Cross.
The Human Settlement Services would make starter kits of planks and corrugated iron sheets available to residents on Friday.
A hall was to be used as temporary accommodation, but it was expected most of those left homeless would stay with relatives or friends.