The Star: More than 1 000 shacks burn in Jo’burg

as usual the poor must be blamed rather than the system that denies people decent housing and fails to, even as a minimal measure, electrify the shack settlements…..

17 August 2008, 09:19
More than 1000 shacks burnt down at the Denver hostel squatter camp in southern Johannesburg late on Saturday night, according to Johannesburg Emergency Management services.

Spokesperson Percy Morokane said about 3000 people were homeless after the fire started in the settlement at the junction of Main Reef Road and Plantasie Street just after midnight.

Morokane said Turffontein, Rosebank, Fairview and Kibler Park fire crews battled the blaze until after midnight.

Nobody was killed or injured but the health of those left out in the Highveld cold was being assessed on Sunday morning.

Morokane said some people living away from the source of the fire managed to salvage some possessions before the flames spread. Many, however, have lost everything.

Just before 1am on Sunday fire crews on the scene were still damping down hot spots. Morokane said it would be some time before the cause and extent of the blaze could be ascertained.

“In illegal informal settlements there are a lot of social factors that come into play. High on the list is drunkenness… where a person drinks and forgets to put out the candle… or they might leave a pot cooking on a stove and go and buy beer again.”

Morokane also said domestic violence or fighting between neighbours could cause a fire if they knocked over items such as candles.

There was no proof that such events caused the fire but they were “on the list of likely causes”.

Morokane said disaster management staff were on the scene to try to help people who had lost their homes, particularly children and the elderly. – Sapa