Police are investigating arson as the possible cause of a fire that devastated the village of Wupperthal. Dozens of homes and other structures were gutted in the blaze on Sunday. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The Moravian Mission Station in Wupperthal sustained more than R20 million in damages after the historical building was destroyed by a fire. 

According to the church, an assessment was conducted on Friday which estimated the damage at more than R20m.

“The church has insurance and insurance on the buildings that belongs to the church. It is the mission stations responsibility to ensure that residents have a home,” the Reverend Martin Abrahams, vice-president of the Moravian Church of Southern Africa said. 

He said that they had consulted an independent engineer for a second opinion. “We are busy trying to identify a new site for the town for further expansion.

“The church is doing everything in its power to rescue the heritage of the area,” Abrahams said.

Demolition was under way and the area was closed from Monday as preparations begin to demolish sections of the historical mission that suffered severe fire damage. 

The fire destroyed 53 homes and eight buildings. Measures have been implemented to isolate and restrict access in the interest of public safety and also to ensure that authorities can swiftly and safely demolish the gutted buildings.

“Residents are extremely traumatised and we are assisting them with trauma counselling as we prepare for the day of demolition because it’s quite a heartbreaking scene for some residents to see their most precious possession being destroyed,” Abrahams said.

The church has made available two pockets of land measuring about 7 hectares within the mission station for emergency housing for victims of the disaster. 

The proposed sites will be used for the provision of more than 60 households affected by the blaze.

The Western Cape’s Human Settlements Department will be leading and implementing the provision of temporary emergency sheltering in the coming week together with local authorities. 

The temporary facilities will also provide for water, sanitation and electricity and other basic services.

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Cape Argus