Joburg Firefighters rescue 250 from tragic inner-city blaze

south african firefighters Emergency Services Echo–Nova

Shortage of Fire Engines won’t stop Firefighters says City of Joburg.


​​Fire fighters from the City of Johannesburg’s Emergency Management Services rescued 250 people from a blaze at the Kathrada Park Informal Settlement, west of the Inner City.

A fire broke out in the informal settlement in the early hours of Monday morning, destroying 100 shacks and leaving 250 people homeless. The Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) fire fighters, as well as the Disaster Management team rushed to the scene in aid of the affected residents.

The blaze was contained by the EMS firefighters and residents were moved to a place of safety, however, the fire caused serious damage to the residents’ properties. Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities were reported.

The Disaster Management team concluded a needs-analysis and identified a temporary emergency shelter at the nearby Danie van Zyl community hall for the destitute fire victims. Blankets and food packs were supplied to the victims. Disaster Management’s relief partners were also quick to the aid.

Organisations such as Gift of Givers delivered mattresses and blankets while Pick ‘n Pay delivered mixed non-perishable groceries. Meals on Wheels and the Tzu Chi Foundation provided lunch and dinner to the residents and the Alimdaad Foundation provided hygiene packs.

An interim investigation shows that the fire may have been caused by an intoxicated person leaving a lit candle unattended. However, a full investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway.

Public Safety MMC Michael Sun said, “I want to express the City’s sincerest appreciation to our Disaster Management Relief Partners for their prompt assistance. When a fire incident such as the one at the Kathrada Park Informal Settlement occurs, the most vulnerable members of our community are worst affected. I also want to commend the Ward Councillor, Susan Stewart, for her tireless efforts in assisting the community. It’s in such difficult times that we as a City must unite to help others to overcome this tragedy”.

Cllr Sun urged residents to take extra precautions around open flames, warning that one careless move could result in hundreds of people losing their homes, or worse, their lives.

There have been numerous complaints recently from residents about the lack of fire trucks at stations. The city apparently only has 28 vehicles and at least 14 are providing services to the entire city. It says that some of its fleet has aged.

Community Safety MMC Michael Sun: “We certainly would not want and we cannot have a situation where we have firefighters sitting around doing nothing. Whilst they don’t have an operational fire engine, they will be deployed to other functions.”

Sources: City of Joburg
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