West Coast fire leaves hundreds homeless

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It’s a bleak New Year’s Eve for hundreds of residents at the Moravian Mission Station of Wupperthal, near Clanwilliam on the West Coast, Western Cape.

A fire tore through the town leaving more than 200 people destitute.

At least 53 thatch roofed houses in the historic town gutted.

A rooibos cosmetics factory, stores, the school hostel and municipal buildings also destroyed.

A resident, Shona van Schalkwyk-Reid, says the flames spread rapidly.

Vice President of the Moravian Church in South Africa, Reverend Martin Abrahams says plans are now under way to remodel a municipal building into a hostel to accommodate primary school children ahead of the reopening of schools in two weeks’ time.

“We are currently busy installing the required services to house the 200 children in one of the buildings. We’ve requested the congregations to help financially but also to donate blankets, food and especially water. We’ve never faced such a tragedy. Time will tell how we overcome this but we also need to have that hope.)Disaster Management’s Service’s from the West Coast Municipality have been assisting.”

Relief efforts are also being stepped up.

It’s believed the fire started in a house in the town. The fire has also affected the electricity and water supply to the area.  Those affected are being housed by family in the town and surrounding areas.