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Fire destroys 25 shacks, displaces more than 80 people in Philippi East

Fire destroys more than 25 informal settlements at Thabo Mbeki informal settlement. Picture: Supplied

Fire destroys more than 25 informal settlements at Thabo Mbeki informal settlement. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 4, 2022

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Cape Town - An electrical fault from an unoccupied shack is believed to be the cause of a fire that destroyed more than 25 dwellings at Thabo Mbeki informal settlement in Philippi East on the New Year’s weekend.

Community leader Buzwe Kali has said more than 80 people have been displaced.

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“In the early hours of the morning I received a call from residents and I immediately rushed to the scene and was told that the fire started from a shack that was unoccupied at the time as the owner is in the Eastern Cape, and as a result, the fire quickly spread to other shacks.

“While we are using legal electricity, our ceilings are made of cupboards and at times because of the heat from the iron sheet, the covering of the wires melts and immediately the cupboard catches fire,” he said.

Kali says this has been the most devastating fire they have experienced in recent years. He said although the informal settlement normally experienced fires, these were extinguished before causing extensive damage.

“Experiencing this kind of sadness, especially when the year just started is devastating. At this time of the year, many people have exhausted their finances as they had to spend a lot on Christmas shopping.

“Most of the parents in preparation for school reopening had already bought school uniforms and stationery and that all perished in the fire.

This is a setback as with the cash we will receive when the month eventually ends will most probably go to getting basics and ensuring that we at least have a roof over our heads,” he said.

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Kali appealed to anyone willing to donate building material, school uniforms, food, clothes, and used furnisher. He can be contacted on 073 945 6048.

City’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said fire services responded to 1 834 informal settlement fires in 2021 with 170 fire-related fatalities recorded during the same period.

Carelse said informal settlement fires for the year 2020 amounted to 1 481, an increase of 353 incidents compared to the previous years.

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The City encouraged residents to among other things unplug all non-essential appliances when not in use and be vigilant and do their bit to mitigate the risk of fires.

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Cape Argus

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