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A 28-year-old man arrested after devastating Fish Hoek fire

A 28-year-old man arrested after devastating Fish Hoek fire
Four houses were destroyed by a raging fire that swept across Fish Hoek, below Elsies Peak, on Sunday. (Photos: Steve Kretzmann)

Police say a man found in the vicinity of a fire that broke out on Sunday in Sunny Cove, Fish Hoek, will be charged with arson.

  • A man is to be charged with arson after a fire destroyed several homes in Fish Hoek, Cape Town, at the weekend.
  • Police said the 28-year-old had been found in the vicinity of the fire.
  • Two women had to be evacuated by firefighters after they collapsed.

Police have confirmed that a 28-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed four houses and severely damaged at least four more on Sunday in Fish Hoek.

Police spokesperson Lt-Col Malcolm Pojie said the man, who was found in the vicinity of the fire, had been arrested on a charge of arson and would appear in court.

On Monday, while an insurance assessor took notes, resident Jordan Sarkis stood in the charred ruins of the one-bedroom home overlooking False Bay he and his wife had bought four months earlier.

Sarkis’ home was the first to go in the fire that started around midday, hours before the predicted rain fell.

Sarkis, 30, who runs a microfinance family business, had bought the house above Main Road in December and renovated it before getting married in February. 

Having moved down from Johannesburg, he and his wife had returned from their honeymoon to live in the house three days before it was gutted.

“It (the fire) moved so fast,” he said. “We just grabbed our stuff.”

Jordan Sarkis and his wife had just moved into their house.

While the walls of Sarkis’ house were still standing, a timber house in the fynbos between Main Road and Echo Road higher up the slope was completely destroyed. 

Only metal debris, charred clothing and books indicated a home had once stood there. The owner, who said they had no insurance, didn’t want to be named or interviewed.

Brick and concrete houses further up the mountain off Echo Road were substantially damaged. 

Dave Beneke, who lost the bottom of three floors, said he was hosing down his roof as the fire advanced, but when his shirt started melting he was forced back inside. 

Most residents had evacuated, but he said the fire brigade had arrived when the bottom floor started burning and he knew he would be okay.

He praised the firefighters and said despite the approximately R1-million damage to his property, he was lucky: “I’m still alive.”

This stone and thatch cottage was destroyed in Sunday’s fire.

Despite the constant rain throughout the night, on Monday morning smoke was still billowing from charred stumps in what had been people’s gardens.

Fire service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to a fire near the main road just after midday on Sunday.

Carelse said firefighting resources, including teams from Table Mountain National Park and Volunteer Wildfire Services, fought the blaze which was fanned by gale force winds.

He said staff had to evacuate two women from their home, “as they collapsed”.

One of the houses destroyed by a fire in Fish Hoek on Sunday.

Also in Fish Hoek, a concrete mast supporting overhead train lines was blown over, resulting in all trains on the Southern Line being cancelled on Monday.

A concrete pylon supporting overhead transmission lines was blown over near the Fish Hoek train station during gale force winds on Sunday.

Metrorail spokesperson Zinobulali Mihi said in a statement that repairs on the overhead transmission lines could not take place while the strong winds continued.

When GroundUp checked the downed pylon at 1pm, it appeared no effort had been made to move it off the tracks and no Prasa workers were in sight.

Mihi said Prasa equipment in Stellenbosch had also been damaged by the storm on Sunday. DM

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