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Increase of house fire incidents in Joburg during load shedding

Emergency services in the City of Joburg have noted increased incidents of house fires, particularly in informal settlements. File Photo: Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency (ANA)

Emergency services in the City of Joburg have noted increased incidents of house fires, particularly in informal settlements. File Photo: Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 20, 2022

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Pretoria – Emergency services in the City of Joburg said there has been a marked increase in the incidents of fire breaking out in houses during the periods of load shedding as residents resort to alternative heat and light sources.

Joburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said the fire incidents are mainly bedevilling the informal settlements dotted across the populous city.

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“Lately, now that we have load shedding, we are finding that we are seeing an increase in terms of the numbers of fire incidents in our informal residential areas because those residents are also forced to use other heating devices like candles which they do not use on a day-to-day basis and they use unsafely. Most of them use a teacup as a candle holder, while some use a beer or drink bottle,” Mulaudzi said.

He said often, the fire incidents break out in informal settlements when the shack occupants fall asleep and the makeshift candle holder gets heated.

“In our informal settlements we are called more often due to the nature which the shacks are build. Most are build next to each other so if there is a fire next door, that fire will actually affect maybe 300 other households because of the way they are built. It is also because of the heating devices they are still using, like paraffin stoves which are often used unsafely,” Mulaudzi said.

As South Africans brace for a cold, wet and possibly snowy weekend, emergency services in Joburg have warned communities to be careful while using heating devices, particularly in the informal settlements.

“During this time of the season, the winter season, as the fire services we normally respond to an increased number of incidents. Most are fire incidents which we normally receive in our most vulnerable communities, our informal settlements,” Mulaudzi said.

“The reason is that most of our residents in those areas still use the old, traditional heating devices like paraffin stoves, candle and imbawula – the fabricated drum fire which has been used for a very long time and can be dangerous if people take it inside the shack. Those are the causes of fire which we come across.”

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The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has warned that there is a possibility of isolated severe storms and will issue detailed radar-based warnings should the need arise.

Rainy and wet conditions are also expected for the rest of the country.

Thunderstorms, combined with strong, gusty surface winds are expected over the central interior by Friday afternoon, spreading to Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal in the evening and parts of Limpopo by Saturday.

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