Donkerbos residents lift bakkie to safety during blaze

About 30 people displaced following fire at Somerset West informal settlement

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Photo residents looking through charred belongings
Families at Donkerbos informal settlement trying to salvage some of their belongings after a fire gutted about nine shacks on Monday morning. Photo: Velani Ludidi

Residents of Donkerbos informal settlement in Somerset West had to put their shoulders to the wheel on Monday to pick up a bakkie parked near a blaze engulfing several shacks.

In a short video, residents are seen trying to move a white bakkie parked in front shacks engulfed in flames. Residents told GroundUp that in the panic, the bakkie’s owner could not find his keys. Fast-thinking neighbours tried to push the car to safety but the steering wheel locked and residents had to pick it up to move it to safety.

But the families living in about nine shacks were not as lucky, as all of their belongings were lost in the fire which started before 6am. Some residents say they woke up to the sound of screams by neighbours, warning them about the fire.

When GroundUp visited, some residents were rummaging through their charred belongings and cleaning the area. Children were collecting money to buy essential items for school while their parents were clearing debris.

Lindell Lewis is unemployed. “I don’t know where we will sleep tonight,” he said. “My mother retired, and I am unemployed, it will be difficult for us to rebuild and we lost items which she purchased in December that were going to last us until March.”

Resident Jacky Daniels, 55, says she lost everything, “I heard the loud shouting and I woke up with my son. There was no chance to take out anything. I was lucky my disabled daughter was not here because the house was on fire when we got out.”

The City of Cape Town’s spokesperson for Fire and Rescue, Jermaine Carelse, said, “Four fire-fighting appliances, a rescue vehicle and 19 staff members managed to contain and extinguish the fire just after 07:00.” He said no injuries were reported and the cause of the fire was unknown.

The City’s Disaster Risk Management officials said SASSA was informed to assist with humanitarian relief to 30 people. Building materials will also be issued to residents whose homes were destroyed, they said.

TOPICS:  Housing

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