A wildfire engulfed Plastic View informal settlement in Tshwane on Saturday night, leaving three people dead and more than 500 people homeless, after about 100 shacks were destroyed.
Twenty-six others were taken to the hospital.
The fire erupted at about midnight on Saturday, leading into Sunday morning, Tswane Emergency Services (EMS) said.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before it spread to other areas.
EMS spokesperson, Charles Mabaso, confirmed that emergency services remained on site to provide social relief.
“We were able to act quickly and extinguish the fire before it spread to other areas. About 100 shacks were destroyed in the blaze, and 500 people were displaced, but we have had the NG Church volunteers to provide alternative accommodation to the families,” Mabaso said.
Although details of what could have caused the fire were not known, some residents of the informal settlement said it could have been caused by an accident with a paraffin stove in one of the shacks.
“Details of the fire are still sketchy, but law enforcement and the SAPS are investigating the cause as we speak. Disaster management and other social relief organizations have provided mattresses, food, and other essentials,” Mabaso said.
The informal settlement has over the past two years been tipped to be developed into a township called Pretorius Park, but this has not yet materialized.
The area has been beset by fire break-outs since its establishment.
Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, acting Chief of Staff in the City, Jordan Griffiths, said they were doing all they could to help affected families.
“Emergency services have remained on site to provide social relief. MMC for Social Development, Thobile Vilakazi, is also on the ground.
“That area has a lot of difficult dynamics in that there are a lot of foreign nationals who are undocumented and living there unlawfully. But because of the pandemic (Covid-19) there are court orders that are preventing evictions for now,” Griffiths said.
One resident who lost his shack in the weekend fire is Zimbabwean national, Solomon Shikanga, who yesterday said he had lost his home and was left homeless.
He was woken up after midnight by the noise and flames.
“I woke up to loud screams of people trying to put out the fire. As I got up I realized that my own shack was burning. I’m just greatful that I didn’t lose my life like others have. For now we must concentrate on rebuilding our lives,” Shikanga said.
Plastic View is notorious for fires breaking out and destroying homes. In one such incident, last July, two nighttime fires broke out within days of each other, leaving more than 400 residents without clothes, blankets, and identification documents.
Recovery took them months, as they were left to scramble to rebuild their lives after receiving donations from, among others, church and non-governmental organizations.
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