Grabouw residents have slammed the town’s fire department after two houses burnt down in one week because their response is allegedly too slow.
In the latest incident, locals claim they tried to extinguish a blaze in Ou Kaapse Weg with hosepipes themselves, while waiting for the brandweer to arrive after nearly 90 minutes.
On top of that, neighbour Peter Parnell, 47, says the first fire engine didn’t have water.
“When the second one arrived I had to break down the wall around the hydrant with a piksteel so they could connect the pipes,” says Parnell.
Jonovan Joseph, 48, says he could only look on helplessly as his childhood home burnt to the ground.
Jonovan, his wife and three children jumped off the balcony onto their bakkie parked outside to escape the flames.
He feels part of his home could have been saved if firefighters had arrived earlier.
“We lost everything. I can’t even work because my bakkie’s keys also burnt out,” he says.
But Overberg Fire and Rescue Chief Geldenhuys blamed the slow response time on violent protests.
He says fire engine trucks parked far from their risk area after their base was burnt down during protests two years ago.
They are busy addressing the problem and hope to introduce a 24-hour shift system to cut their response time.
Despite these challenges, they managed to arrive at the fire 17 minutes after receiving the call at 3.29am on Tuesday morning.
However, he did admit there were problems with the fire hydrants in Ou Kaapse Weg.
“Upon our arrival, the house was already completely up in flames, which indicates that it had been burning for quite some time,” he tells the Daily Voice.
“The fire engines are always filled and will never arrive empty. The hydrant was a problem because the municipality obstructed it when the road was rebuilt, but because there was water in the trucks there was no delay in the firefighting operation,” he adds.
On June 23, a family of four were left homeless when their house in Nerine Street, Grabouw, also burnt to the ground, while waiting for firefighters to arrive.