Fire victims call for help

Barcelona residents are still struggling to rebuild after a fire swept through the area on Tuesday January 2.

Scores of people in Gugulethu’s Barcelona shanty town are still struggling to rebuild their homes after a fire, allegedly started by a firecracker, swept through there early in the new year.

Firefighters from Lansdowne and Mitchell’s Plain fought the blaze after the call came in at 2.10pm on Tuesday January 2, according to City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse.

He said it was extinguished by 7.30pm after it had destroyed 30 shacks and left 100 people without shelter.

Mr Carelse said the cause of the fire was unknown, but residents claim it was sparked when a child threw a firecracker at an old mattress.

Vukani visited the area on Thursday last week, and community leader Nono Ngondo said many victims were still sheltering with friends and relatives as they were unemployed and could not afford to buy materials to rebuild.

The few who had rebuilt had mostly done so using burnt materials so they could have rudimentary shelter.

They were grateful that no lives had been lost in the fire and that the City had provided some mattresses, blankets and soup to the victims, she said.

“I was sleeping when I was informed that there was a fire, and when I got here, there was only one shack burning at the time. But because firefighters took a little bit of time, when they got here, 17 shacks were on fire already.”

Referring to claims that the fire was started by a firecracker, she said: “No child should play with a firecracker in the area without a parent’s supervision, and, in fact, they should not be sold to them without parents’ supervision.”

Ms Ngondo said she had appealed on Facebook for the public to help the fire victims.

A woman who did not wanted to be named said she had lost the two-room shack she shared with her husband and son to the flames.

She had been sleeping after coming from a night shift and had been woken by screams.

She had only managed to save a few clothes before her home was destroyed taking with it her son’s school uniforms and other school-related items, she said.