Two children dead, shacks destroyed in fire

Two children died in a fire in Wallacedene at the weekend.

Two boys, aged 3 and 6, were killed in a Wallacedene fire that destroyed several shacks at the weekend.

The fire broke out in Sikhobongela Street, in Phase 2, according to Ward 6 councillor Siviwe Nodliwa who said 16 shacks had been destroyed.

The call-out came at 12.56am on Sunday, and fire crews from Brackenfell and Kraaifontein found a house and shacks burning, with a strong wind fanning the flames, said City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse.

“Community members reported that not everyone was accounted for and when the premises were searched, the bodies of the children were found,” Mr Carelse said.

A house was damaged and several shacks destroyed by the time the fire was extinguished before 3am.

The cause of the fire had not been determined, Mr Carelse said.

Resident Alphonzo Japhta said two cars had also been destroyed in the fire.

Both he and Mr Nodliwa said the fire had started shortly after the power had come back on following a bout of load shedding.

Mr Nodliwa said his office was sourcing donations for the fire victims.

Later that same morning, 12 firefighters battled a blaze in Matroos Road, Wallacedene, where a house was damaged and nine people were displaced, according to Fire and Rescue spokesman Edward Bosch.

No injuries were reported and the fire was extinguished within an hour.

Mr Bosch said the cause of the fire was unknown.

Stellenbosch University Research Alliance for Disaster and Risk Reduction expert Dr Robyn Pharoah told Northern News that Wallacedene was prone to fires all year but especially during winter and the festive season.

“In winter, this is because people use flaming heat sources when it is cold. Over the festive season, fires can be more common because people are celebrating, and are more likely to drink, which is often associated with fires. Because people often go back to the Eastern Cape, fires are often more extensive, as people are away and there are fewer people around to extinguish fires – and it is windier,” Dr Pharoah said.

There was no easy solution to the problem, she said.

“The reasons for fires are complex and are bound up with socio-economic and social factors. For example, communities report over and over again that fires are often started when people who have had too much to drink fall asleep with something on the stove, or a cigarette or candle burning. It is very difficult to change a deep-seated social issue like this.”