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Embattled residents of Browns Farm in Philippi, still reeling from two fires in as many weeks, were hit by further tragedy on Saturday when another fire in the early hours of the morning razed 27 homes.
Nokuphula Njonga, a mother of two, said she had lost everything in the fire, apparently caused by a candle which had been left unattended. Njonga stood watching on Saturday as her husband and other men started to rebuild.
She had to start all over again, the devastated woman said, adding that all her children’s Christmas clothing and presents which she had been buying over the past months had been lost in the fire.
“Before this fire I had very little,” she said.
“But the very little I’ve lost meant a lot, considering the circumstances. I also had money in my wardrobe, but there was no time to save it.”
Njonga said the man believed to have been responsible for the blaze had fled the area, fearing mob justice.
She said he had been using candles in his shack after his electricity box was stolen.
“People are obviously cross with him,” she said.
Residents told Weekend Argus there had been another fire in the area last week, and another on Monday.
The community had helped douse the flames on Monday, which had affected about 20 other homes.
Dumisane Maketha, who hosts the local Zion Church which is also his home, was working against the clock to have the venue ready for the next service. They were supposed to meet this morning.
“It affects me very badly because I also sleep here and the church gear was also destroyed in the fire,” he said. Residents were helping one another out, he said.
A city fire spokesman said 60 people had been left homeless by Saturday’s blaze.
He said the cause remained unknown at this stage. He could not provide details about the other two fires reported by residents.