Over 500 Philippi residents have been left homeless after a shack fire, started by an unattended stove, destroyed 100 homes.
The blaze broke out on Monday shortly after 7pm at the Kosovo informal Settlement in Philippi, when a man apparently put wors in a pan and left his house “to get drunk at a shebeen”.
Yesterday residents worked in the rain to clear the debris, trying to save what they can from their belongings before they could start rebuilding.
A dejected Mandla Magunjana, 62, says they were inside when they heard shouts of a fire coming from one of the shacks.
“We all went out to try and put out the fire but it spread,” he says.
“Before we knew it, most of the shacks here were alight.
“The fire started on a shack there in the corner, the man who lived there apparently put sausage on the stove and went out to go to some tavern and when he came back, there was this fire.
“He ran away and nobody has heard from him since. Luckily no one got hurt.”
Many residents said they lost all their possessions and are angry that they need to start over because of one careless neighbour.
“I don’t know what my kids will wear to school because all their uniforms, books, shoes, everything we have is gone,” sobs mother of three Nomazwe Falane.
“People like this need to start facing charges because it can’t be that they do this all the time, put people’s lives at risk and nothing happens. The police must do something.”
Fire and Rescue spokesperson Liezel Moodie says the cause of the fire is still unknown, pending a police investigation.
She says they responded to the fire shortly after 8pm with four fire engines, four water tankers and two rescue vehicles.
“The fire destroyed 100 wood and iron structures, leaving 500 persons displaced,” she says.