Residents’ difficult choices during Cape Town fire evacuations
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Cape Town - People differ on what they see as being important or of great value to them.
During the recent tragic fires in Cape Town this week, people had a choice of choosing what to salvage when they had to evacuate their homes.
For some people, the first thing that comes to mind when their home is in danger of burning to the ground is saving their life, another human life, a pet, identity document and some of their portable personal belongings.
Yazid Ebrahim, from Walmer Estate, said his family had been living in the area for the past 55 years.
“I was a young boy when my family first moved here, and we have always been affected by fires during this time, but we learnt to look after ourselves,” said Ebrahim.
He said when the fire broke out, they knew it would reach their area so they started wetting the ground so it does not badly affect them.
Ebrahim said when it got closer and stronger, they had to evacuate their homes.
He said the first thing that came to his mind was to first evacuate the people and pets.
“Human life is the most important so we evacuated the elderly and children first and it does not matter who it is, family member or neighbour.”
Ebrahim said that is the reason nobody got hurt in their community was because they valued life and looked out for each other.
He said they have a sense of unity and they communicate with each all the time, to check that no one got hurt.
He said they are also grateful to the people that helped them and the work that was done by the City’s Fire and Rescue Services that helped put an end to the horror.
He said they knew that fires will not end with this recent one.
“We learnt quite a lot from this fire and we will be more prepared for any fires in the future,” said Ebrahim.
For UCT student, Khosi Mzamo, after evacuating her residence, she realised she forgot her wigs in her room.
She said she had to pack some of her belongings in just under 10 minutes when they were told to evacuate because the fire was overwhelming.
She said she realised she forgot a laptop which is not hers and three wigs in her room and decided to go back and get them.
“I had to go back for my wigs because good wigs are expensive, they can go for about R3 000 and I managed to save all three of them,” she said.
The student added that leaving her wigs behind stressed her the most, she even had an episode as a result.
The fire was eventually put out by firefighters and volunteers after having caused a lot of damage.
Today, the Minister of Forestry and the Environment Barbara Creecy will be visiting the Table Mountain National Park to assess the impact the fire had on the communities around the park.
She would also engage with the authorities and firefighters in order to map a way forward.