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556 residential fires in Cape Town between April and May

A 57 year old disabled woman and two boys were killed in a fire in Bonteheuwel last week, apparently caused by a candle. Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

A 57 year old disabled woman and two boys were killed in a fire in Bonteheuwel last week, apparently caused by a candle. Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 12, 2021


Cape Town - There have been 556 fires in both formal and informal residential homes in Cape Town between April and May and the numbers keep rising.

These figures were revealed to Weekend Argus this week as several fires in the Western Cape left people homeless or dead.

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Between April and May 326 formal residences have burnt, while 230 fires occurred at informal residences over the same period.

Formal dwellings have seen an increase in fires as the winter season peaks.

In the sub council district between Bonteheuwel, Valhalla Park and Delft, 28 fires occurred between May and June.

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Fire and Rescue authorities are advising people to be more responsible when using gas, heaters, paraffin stoves and candles in their homes.

Last week, four people died at a formal residence in Protea Park, Atlantis.

In Bonteheuwel, a wheelchair-bound woman and two boys died in a fire and were found under the debris, while a woman and another boy were taken to hospital after two structures burnt.

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Spokesperson for the City’s Fire and Rescue Services, Jermaine Carelse, said they had 556 fire scenes during April and May in both formal and informal residences.

“In April 158 formal residences burnt, and in May 168.

“With informal residences in April we had 102 fires, and 128 in May.

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“Shack fires are very hard to control and can have devastating consequences for residents of informal settlements,” he said.

Carelse added that residents should always keep a close eye on paraffin stoves, not cook near a window with a curtain, and make sure the paraffin stove does not fall over.

“Don’t leave a candle, gas stove or heater unattended or while sleeping, and teach children not to play with lighters or matches, and make sure cigarette buds are properly put out”Carelse said.

Ward councillor Angus McKenzie, whose areas include Delft, Bonteheuwel and Valhalla Park, said they had 28 fires in their sub council.

He added that many fires were as a result of negligence, and appealed to the public to be vigilant when having fire hazardous items in their homes.

McKenzie said fires were often caused by the careless use of candles, gas and electrical appliances, as well as illegal connections. Load shedding also played a role in fires being started accidentally.

Ongoing fire safety awareness campaigns were aimed at reducing fires and the tragic loss of life, he said.

“Just before Covid-19, we painted a number of dwellings with fire resistant paint. We, as councillors, are actively working with organisations and communities, and engaging with them when people have lost their livelihood and lives,” McKenzie said.

Any fire should be reported immediately to the City’s public emergency centre, 107 or 021 4807700 from a cellphone.

Weekend Argus

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