Hundreds of Shacks Destroyed in Cape Town Fire

Homes were destroyed by fire and fuelled by strong winds in Masiphumelele on December 17, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed by an evening fire fuelled by strong winds in Masiphumelele in the south of Cape Town, South Africa.

The devastating fire ripped through the area, destroying over a thousand homes in the informal settlement and leaving scores of people destitute.

Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service spent hours trying to put out the fire. An initial count indicated that about 1,000 dwellings had been gutted by the fire.

The fire services’ spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said the team was alerted to plumes of thick black smoke in the area at around 4 pm.

The team from Kommetjie road quickly responded to the fire, which was “fanned by strong winds and spreading at an alarming rate”. Eight fire-fighting appliances, as well as helicopters, were deployed to combat the fire.

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Although helicopters deployed were grounded in the late afternoon due to gale-force winds. Choppers and spotter planes water-bombed the area with no damage to property. 

He added that the blaze was put out at 1am on Friday.

The city’s statement said beyond containing the fire, it is no longer able to offer required relief materials like flood kits due to said to national government budget cuts.

The statement further stated that Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato, “will declare a local disaster within the next 72 hours”

In response, volunteers and rescue teams along with community members are clearing the site of debris left in the wake of the fire in the informal settlement.

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