Within the space of three days, two separate shack fires in Dunoon have claimed the lives of two men and destroyed more than 70 homes, says a community leader.
The first fire in the early hours of Saturday left one man dead, according to the fire department.
Community leader Thembelani Ndabezimbi said that fire had destroyed 32 homes. He added that a second fire, on Monday night, had killed a second man and destroyed another 40 homes.
Tabletalk was unable to confirm the second fatality with the fire department by deadline.
“If it wasn’t so tragic, I would say it was beautiful,” said Zanele Yona, describing the flames that lit up the night sky early on Saturday. Her shack isn’t far from where the fire started, but it was spared destruction.
“The flames were so big, and we could feel the heat even from probably 100 metres away. People were yelling and screaming trying to save all they could from their belongings. Some neighbours tried to help with water buckets but it was just too much for them. All some of us could do is try to call the fire department and just stand there and watch people’s lives being destroyed.”
Mr Ndabezimbi has urged the public to support the fire victims.
“This is tragic for our community,” he said.
Witnesses to the Saturday fire said the man who died had been trapped inside his shack by the flames.
“Losing a life like this is especially difficult for us as a community,” said resident Thandeka Msila. “Belongings can always be replaced but someone’s life is something we can never get back.”
Anele Lali, said her one-room shack burnt down but she was at work at the time.
“I was working a night shift and I kept getting calls. I had to take a break from work to find out why I was being called so much. When I found out what was happening, I let my manager know, and I was released. Luckily they were very understanding and staff transport took me home.
“When I got there, my shack had burnt down. I’m glad I live alone and no one was there. I’ll have to start over now, but I can be grateful that I am still her.”
City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse, said the call for the Saturday fire had come in at 1.10am.
“The first units arrived at 1.30am, and the fire was extinguished at 5am. The cause has not yet been established. An adult male succumbed to fatal burn wounds.”
Milnerton police and the City’s disaster risk management department did not respond to questions by deadline.