Hundreds left destitute after a fire broke out in Philippi

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Hundreds of people have been left destitute after a fire broke out at an informal settlement in Philippi, on the Cape Flats. 13 fire engines and 40 firefighters were dispatched on Sunday.

Residents say one of the inhabitants apparently left a burning candle unattended during extremely windy conditions.

Mopping-up operations are underway at the Mangaung informal settlement. But many remain without a roof over their heads.

“There was wind, there was a rapid speed of the wind that they couldn’t handle, the City of Cape Town came to help us, you know, and we have small crossroads here we don’t have that huge amount of roads, I’m so happy that the city managed on time because it was around past 3, past 4, I didn’t sleep,” says resident Zama Tasana.

“We don’t have anything even IDs, if Home Affairs can come here and assist us with IDs as soon as possible because even IDs are burnt,” says another resident Lubabalo Maliti.

The City of Cape Town says over 100 structures were destroyed and about 400 people displaced. Authorities are currently registering the number of affected residents in order to coordinate relief aid. All government spheres are involved.

“We’ve got the National Department of Human Settlements that has joined us in doing the verification so that we can escalate the urgency of needs and get kits out to the community. But of course, as you can see behind me some relief being handed out to the residents. I mean this is the problem we have with informality in the city of Cape Town, it mushrooms, it grows, and we have unsafe informal settlements, but what is important is that when these things happen we have the whole government approach to try and relieve the shock that comes with the fire,” says Carl Pophaim, Mayco for Human Settlements.

Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers says they received urgent calls in the early hours.

“When we got on sight yesterday people told us they were hungry, we provided them with a hot meal, we will be feeding them for the next five days and today to add to our humanitarian assistance, we will be assisting the families with blankets, matrasses, personal hygiene items. They informed us that there are young babies here, we’ve got baby items in terms of nappies and baby meals to feed the babies, the main concern is the roof over their head,” says Ali Sablay from Gift of the Givers.

The National Department of Human Settlements was also on-site to assist with the re-housing needs.

Video: Philippi Fire – More than 400 people have been displaced