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Philippi community blames blackouts for fire that left hundreds homeless

Philippi community blames blackouts for fire that left hundreds homeless
More than 300 people are homeless after a fire destroyed their shacks at Never never informal settlement in Philippi East, Cape Town at 4:20pm on Wednesday. (Photo: Sandiso Phaliso)

Fire and rescue say no evidence points to rolling blackouts as a cause for the blaze but cautions residents to switch off appliances during these times.

Over 300 people are homeless after a fire gutted their shacks at Never-Never informal settlement in Philippi East, Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon.

Residents believe rolling backouts are the cause behind the fire, however, fire and rescue say there is not enough evidence to show this. No injuries were reported.

The fire victims said they lost their belongings including IDs, passports, school stationery and uniform as well as all their furniture.

Thumeka Mninzi said she returned from work to find her home completely gutted. “All I am left with is what I’m wearing. I don’t know how I’m going to start afresh. This fire is devastating,” she said.

Lungelo Lisa said, “If it was not for rolling blackouts, we would not be without our homes. One of our neighbours left a stove on while cooking when rolling blackouts started. When the electricity came back on, the stove was on and a fire started.”

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Police referred all our questions regarding the fire to the City of Cape Town.

Philippi fire

A child walks through the rubble where many shacks were gutted in a fire on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Sandiso Phaliso)

City Disaster Risk Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell told GroundUp the blaze destroyed 130 dwellings and 333 persons have been affected.

Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Service, said they received the call at 4:20pm and firefighters only managed to extinguish the blaze at 10pm. He said there was no evidence that rolling blackouts had caused the fire but urged residents to be cautious and to ensure their appliances are switched off during these times.

Never-Never residents are now pleading with the government to relocate them because the area is overcrowded and there are no formal roads or stormwater drainage. The only communal sanitation facilities are water taps and toilets. DM

First published by GroundUp.


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