Wallacedene fire: Another blaze rips through informal settlement

The blaze has left over 80 people homeless, and two people were found dead after the flames were extinguished.

A fire that broke out in the Wallacedene informal settlement near Cape Town on Sunday morning has left two people dead and dozens more homeless.

28 informal structures were burnt, leaving 83 people without a roof over their heads.

STRONG WINDS MAKE FOR DIFFICULT WORK

The blaze started at around 2:30am and strong winds contributed to it’s rapid spread along Mfeketo street in the township. Several fire agencies were called in to assist Brackenfell fire crew,

The charred remains of two residents – a man and a woman of undisclosed ages – were discovered in one of the structures once the blaze was quelled at approximately 5:00am.

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said that the fire was difficult to extinguish.

“At about 02:30 the City’s Fire & Rescue Service responded to informal structures alight in Mfeketo Street, Wallacedene,” he said.

“Brackenfell’s fire crew arrived first on scene and immediately requested more assistance as a strong wind was fanning the fire. It took firefighters almost 2 hours to extinguish the fire.”

“The bodies of a man and woman were discovered in the same structure.”

Informal Settlement Management was on hand to supply fire kits residents so that they are able  to rebuild their dwellings.

The South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) has been asked to provide humanitarian relief for the victims of the tragedy.

The scene has been handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS).

COMBUSTIBLE COMMUNITY

This is certainly not the first time a fire has devastated the community.

Earlier in February, 72 structures were reduced to ash when a fire broke out in the area. Remarkably, no one was injured in that incident.

A fire tore through the neighbourhood in June 2019 too, burning eight homes in the process. In 2018, a similar incident led to power in the area being shut down after electricity boxes went up in flames.

DRIFTSANDS FIRE LEAVES YOUNG BOY DEAD

In another incident, a young boy was killed as a fire swept through the  Driftsands informal settlement, also near Cape Town, on Monday morning.

“Despite the quick response of Lansdowne’s fire crew, the body of a male minor was discovered amongst the debris. A man also sustained slight injuries and was treated on scene,” Carelse said.

The fire was extinguished before 3:00am.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, said that there are several factors that could be resulting in so many of these incidents.

“Many fire-related fatalities happen between midnight and 05:00. The majority of victims are adult males,” he said.

“While these cases are handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for investigation, things like unattended open flames, smoking in bed and illegal electricity connections continue to be identified as among the contributing factors.”

“Fire safety awareness and fire prevention require collective effort. Too many incidents are the result of human error or negligence, in spite of the ongoing education and awareness initiatives by a number of City departments.”

“We have also started installing smoke detectors in some areas through ward allocation funding and corporate sponsorships.”

Dan Meyer by Dan Meyer