IY fire leaves misery in its wake

Up to 10 houses and five shacks were destroyed in fire that left more than 30 people displaced on Tuesday December 26, according to the City’s fire department. Picture: supplied

Victims of a fire that swept through Imizamo Yethu on Boxing Day are trying to rebuild their lives.

The fire, which was reported at 9pm on Tuesday December 26, destroyed 10 houses and five shacks and left more than 30 people homeless, before it was extinguished at 1am the next day by more than 40 firefighters, according to City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse.

The cause of the blaze was unknown and no injuries were reported, he added.

Irene Banda said her children had smelled fire at about 9pm and discovered a neighbour’s shack engulfed in flames.

“This shack had no one in it; the owner was still rebuilding to move in early January, so there was no one to tell us about the fire,” Ms Banda said.

The fire spread to her home taking all her family’s belongings with it.

“I panicked; I didn’t know what to take but ran for my life with the kids. I lost everything. We basically came out in the pyjamas we were wearing. We did not go back to try and retrieve anything. We weren’t hurt, but we lost our clothes, our bed, the kids’ bunk bed, our appliances, television sets, as well as utensils and groceries.

“I work from home so I also lost important documents, a laptop, monitor and a printer. We also lost documents like clinic cards and passports.

“I don’t know what time the fire services were alerted, but over 30 minutes could’ve passed before they arrived,” she said, adding that strong winds had fanned the flames.

The Banda family received donations of clothes, basic foodstuffs, a small hotplate and a kettle from aid groups Thula Thula and Gift of the Givers.

“We are yet to replace the kids’ uniforms, books, games, and toys. We still need help with school uniforms and shoes as well as a fridge and a washing machine,” said Ms Banda who is now staying with friends in Constantia.

“These fires happen a lot here, and we should have more fire awareness in Imizamo Yethu so we can be educated on what to do, what to salvage and what number to call.

“I’ve seen fires in the past 10 years, but the experience hit me hard. Imagine losing everything you worked for in the blink of an eye. I still cry about it.”

Mandela Road resident Anele Manyandela lost the home he and his mother shared.

“We could not salvage our belongings in time, and as a result, everything burned down inside,“ he said. ”The wind was too strong and causing the fire to go extremely fast.“

Mr Manyandela also received aid from Thula Thula and Gift of the Givers.

“They brought us some mattresses, some clothes as well as with basic foods. A major plea for assistance is that our homes can be rebuilt because some of us are not that financially secured to rebuild a brick house and replace what was lost inside.”

Thula Thula spokeswoman Nosi Siswana said the fire had affected 37 families in Mandela Road and Bambata Street.

“There were 20 shacks and nine formal houses that were destroyed in the fire in Mandela Road and Bambata Street. We managed to help 35 families so far. Each of them received clothes, a mini stove, kettles, toiletries, a blanket, and a bag of groceries.”

For more information about Thula Thula or to make a contribution, contact Nosi Siswana at 066 435 3443 or info@thula-thula.org.

Thula Thula volunteers Asiphe Ntlangwini, Nosiseko Siswana and Samola Mzimela with some of the goods donated to fire victims. Picture: supplied
Imizamo Yhethu fire victim Irene Banda took this picture of her home when it caught alight on Tuesday evening December 26.
Donations that Thula Thula delivered to the fire victims.