The Hout Bay community is rallying together to help four Hangberg families who saw their lives go up in smoke on Sunday.
Residents fought frantically to stop the blaze in Captain Street that destroyed the four shacks that the families called home
Hangberg resident Florence Clarke said her sister had lost everything in the fire at a time when the family was in mourning.
“We were in a meeting regarding funeral arrangements for my brother who passed away on Thursday on his way home from sea when we were called to the fire,” Ms Clarke said.
“That is when we saw my sister’s place was on fire. This is a double tragedy for us as a family. My sister’s neighbours’ places also burnt to the ground.“
One of the victims, Fayroes Matthee, said she hoped to rebuild.
“I feel terrible seeing the families lose their places and literally everything, no clothes nothing, only left with what was on their backs,“ she said, holding back tears.
Ms Matthee said it was unclear what had caused the fire.
“At this point, no-one knows what caused the fire to the one bungalow. It wasn’t for the community, I do not know how things would’ve ended with the rest of the places in that vicinity.
“I’m just grateful that it didn’t happen during the night and that nobody lost their lives in this fire.”
City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Craig said firefighters from Hout Bay, Constantia, Sea Point and Epping had fought the fire, extinguishing it just after 8pm. The cause was unknown.
Joanne Chemaly, founder of Thula Thula Hout Bay, a non-profit organisation that has helped the victims of several fires in the area, said the latest fire was “tragic” and “traumatic”.
“We assist the families with basic relief items based on the donations we receive from the community,” Ms Chemaly said.
Thula Thula Hout Bay has started providing the victims with toiletries, groceries, bedding and clothing.
“Sadly, this time of year, there is an increase in fires in the informal housing areas,” Ms Chemaly said.
Hout Bay resident James Wrench, who has delivered food vouchers to the fire victims and is helping Thula Thula Hout Bay collect clothing for them, encouraged the public to support the organisation.
“One can have a lot of cool ideas long-term to raise funds with them. They are really a great value to Hout Bay’s fire victims.”
Ms Chemaly said: “Once we have assisted families with the basic essentials, they still have a long road to recovering all that has been lost. Most families do not have some form of insurance, and so replacing the costly items like beds, furniture and electronic appliances is a real struggle. If any of these items are donated, we ensure that we distribute these items based on each family’s most pressing needs.”
Thula Thula Hout Bay is looking for donations of men’s clothing, shoes for all ages, groceries and blankets. Email email@example.com or call 082 325 7520 if you can help.