Boy dies in shack fire, hundreds left homeless

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REUTERS

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Cape Town - A three-year-old Mitchells Plain boy died and more than 200 people were left homeless when nine separate fires gutted city homes at the weekend.

Carlton-Lee Botha was believed to be asleep with his father Hilton Botha in their shack at Freedom Park Informal Settlement, Mitchells Plain, when the fire occurred on Saturday.

“Carlton woke his father up to say that the mattress was on fire. I saw Hilton carry the mattress out of the house but by the time he tried to get back in to get the boy, there was too much smoke,” family friend Martin Adonis said on Sunday.

The city’s Disaster Risk Management Centre’s Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the shack had been destroyed at about 7.50am.

“The circumstances surrounding the occurrence are unclear and the authorities will investigate,” he said.

Police spokesman FC van Wyk said an inquest docket had been opened.

In other fires, five shacks were destroyed, leaving 20 people homeless off Potsdam Road in Du Noon, Milnerton, at 11pm on Friday.

On Saturday, three people were displaced when a shack was gutted at Freedom Farm Informal Settlement, Stellenbosch Arterial Road.

A house and a backyard shack burnt down, leaving two people homeless in Asanda Village, Strand.

Solomons-Johannes said six structures used by vendors and another used as a church by the community in Mfuleni were damaged by a fire at 1.30pm.

In Gugulethu, five people were left homeless when four shacks burnt down in Boys Town Informal Settlement.

“Teams assisted the fire victims with food parcels, blankets, baby packs, clothing and building materials.

”Emergency psychosocial trauma counselling was supplied,” he said.

Fire and Rescue responded to a fire which started at a house in Kalkfontein and spread to neighbouring properties. Thirty-one people were left homeless.

A woman was treated on scene for smoke inhalation.

Solomons-Johannes said the city could not accommodate the families in emergency shelters because the dwellings were on private property, but they were given food parcels, clothing, blankets, and building material.

In Garden Village, Maitland, five people, including three children, were left homeless when a vegetation fire spread to neighbouring properties causing structural damage to the houses, which a building inspector declared unsafe.

About 150 people were left homeless when 37 shacks caught alight during a fire which started at the SST Informal Settlement in Town 2 just off Lansdowne Road in Khayelitsha at about midnight on Saturday.

This came after a fire claimed five lives and left 4 000 people destitute in Khayelitsha’s BM Section on New Year’s Day, about a kilometre away.

“According to eyewitnesses, the fire started at an unoccupied shack.

“It is suspected that the blaze was either caused by a cooking device left on or as a result of open flames not extinguished,” Solomons-Johannes said.

He said the fire had been contained and extinguished by 2.55am on Sunday.

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Cape Times


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