Pretoria fire: Three people dead, thousands left homeless after Cemetery View fire

Pretoria fire: Three people dead, thousands left homeless after Cemetery View fire
Pretoria fire: Three people dead, thousands left homeless after Cemetery View fire

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Three people died and more than a thousand others were left homeless after a devastating fire ripped through the Cemetery View informal settlement in Pretoria on Saturday night.

Tshwane Emergency Services deputy chief Peter Motolla said their officers were alerted to the fire shortly after 20:00.

He said when the team arrived at the scene, at least 400 homes were on fire, and residents were hurriedly trying to seek shelter away from the fire.

“We discovered three [bodies] burnt to death, among them a 5-year-old girl. The cause of the fire is not yet known.”

“The fire was extinguished at around 23:00 Saturday night, but our teams waited on site till early Sunday morning to ensure there were no flare-ups. It is an active crime scene, and the police will now take over from us,” said Motolla.

He said the fire has since been put out completely, and they don’t suspect any flare-ups will occur.

Motolla said it appears as if paraffin may have been the cause of the fire as it was used for cooking purposes by many of the residents.

He did however stress that this could not be confirmed.

Ward councillor Malcolm de Klerk said when he arrived on the scene when the fires erupted, it was “devastating” to see how residents stood at a distance and watched their homes go up in flames.

Some residents have stayed in the densely populated area for more than seven years.

De Klerk estimated that at least 1 000 people had been left without a place to stay.

De Klerk said:

He added that as soon as it was safe, residents got into their vehicles and started collecting equipment to rebuild their homes because many had nowhere else to go.

“It’s unfortunate that they started rebuilding their homes on the site as it is an active crime scene. I am aware that some residents were found dead. It was unclear if the bodies found are related,” said De Klerk.

He added that when he spoke to residents, it was discovered that multiple houses were using stoves that require paraffin for cooking.

“Surrounding communities also reported that numerous gas bottles exploded in the informal settlement area,” said De Klerk.

He said humanitarian organisation SA Cares has been on the ground to assist people with their needs.

“What needs to happen here is to corner off this space to allow for full mop-up operations and ensure all persons are accounted for. Emergency services are still on the scene,” he said.

Police were approached for comment which will be added once received.

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