Sixth Kennedy Road Fire in 2008 (1 August 2008)

Two weeks ago hundreds were left homeless and robbed of all their possessions by a fire at the Kennedy Road settlement. There was another fire at the Kennedy Road settlement today – the 6th this year.

No one was hurt and people managed to bring it under control quite quickly. The fire brigade, as they always do these days, arrived quickly and put out the remaining blaze. They worked with the community and worked effectively and bravely (fighting shack fires is quite dangerous as gas cylinders blow up unexpectedly in large balls of flame).

The fact that there are so few taps in the settlement, and that they are so far away and up a steep hill from the bottom of the settlement where this fire began, made fighting it very difficult. But people did what they could bringing water down the hill, demolishing shacks in the path of the fire and breaking the locks on shacks at risk to remove the contents to safety. Thirteen shacks were destroyed. No one was hurt.

There are no fires in the electrified part of the settlement. The connection between the city s 2001 decision to cease electrifying shacks in Durban, not to mention the city s habit of treating self organised connections as criminal, and the relentless fires is clear. The connection between the tiny number of taps in the settlements and the difficulty in fighting fires is also clear.

Mashumi Figlan (0795843995) and S bu Zikode (0835470474) are on the scene and can give comment.

There are some pictures of today s fire at:

There is a link to a list of links to previous statements about fires at the entry on the 14 July Kennedy Road fire which is at:

As Abahlali baseMjondolo keeps saying shack fires are not accidents, people do not need fire safety training. Shack fires are a direct consequence of policy choices. People need immediate access to electricity and proper access to water as a matter of emergency and then democratic planning for upgrading shacks into houses in the city where people live, work, go to school, use libraries and sports facilities etc.