Residents of Pooke se Bos in Rylands are piecing back the remants of their lives after a fire ripped through the settlement in the early hours of Tuesday morning and affected 127 residents.
According to the City Of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Theo Layne, a man burnt to death in the blaze that destroyed 52 homes.
He says a Law Enforcement unit and Fire fighters had to withdraw from the scene temporarily afterresidents become hostile. He confirms that the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.
” The Mustadafin Foundation will provide humanitarian relief, hot meals, food parcels ansd blankets. Various City services visited the site to assess the damage”,says Layne . He adds that the City ‘s solid waste departement is removing debris and that the informal settlements department handed out fire kits to residents to rebuild their homes. In 2015, 136 dwelling in Pooke se Bos were painted with fire-retardant paint as part of a City campaing sponsored by Khusela Ikhaya.
The NGO’s Ashley Stemmett says not all the walls in the settlement could be reached in 2015, and therefore it could also not be determined whether the fire burnt through an area they painted. “We would like to extend our condolences to the community and to the family of the man who passed away in the fire. Every life lost and every home lost to sheck fires is one too many”, says Stemmett. He says the is the worst fire that has occurred in one of the ” hotspot” areas that they had painted.
He says Khusela Ikhaya aims to prevent to rapid spread of shac fires, but that it is the mitigating influance if they can’t get to all the walls to paint them
“Every informal settlement has its particicuar layout and Pooke se Bos present a unique ‘problem’ to us when we painted there as part of the mayor’s Miso Umlilo campaign in 2015. In our initial assessment of Pooke se Bos we soon realised that large clusters of home exist . Sometimes blocks or home units contain more than 10 adjoining rooms – leaving us with only one option but to paint only the perimeters of unusually large dwelling units,” he says .
Stemmett thinks the City’s plan t reblock hotspots like Pook se Bosis the best solution. ” Until all highly congested settlements undergo this, we will sadly continue to see this occurrence. A home where fire oroginates will be consumed by fire in less than five minutes.
” if we are able to protectively coat al the four walls of these or neighbouring homes, we stand a better chance of containing outbreaks. However, due to the random layouts and extremely close proximity of homes, we cannot always do this. We do believe that, coupled with a fire – retardant coating, homes that are adequately spaced will stand a much better chance against any future fire out breaks”.