ABOUT 100 people escaped death when a fire razed their homes in Ezimeleni, Umlazi on Saturday night.
The survivors have lost everything but the clothes on their backs after 37 shacks were reduced to ashes.
The cause of the fire is unknown, though it is suspected that one shack dweller had left a candle burning.
The fire's effect has been devastating to the now homeless residents, who are now forced to eke out a living under more trying conditions.
Sphiwe Mkhize, one of the survivors said: "Everything has been destroyed. We have been left with nothing, but the clothes I have on me now.
"Some people gave me a few blankets that I used to sleep last night but other than that everything is gone.
"I don't even know what I am going to do," he said.
Mkhize said the owner of the shack in which the fire allegedly started was not aware of the damage she had caused.
Some people lost the only form of identification they had.
Sihle Ndlovu, who came to Durban from Port Shepstone to study IT, said his dream of graduating had been shattered by the fire.
"I live here with my aunt, Sabani Ncogo. I came here to study at a college in Durban. I never thought this could happen to me.
"Everything is gone. I only had my laptop for one week. It was burnt in the fire," he said.
Ndlovu said his matric certificate, ID and college student card were also destroyed.
"It's going to be difficult for me to continue my studies without a laptop. I have a test on Monday and I cannot even identify myself to the examiners," Ndlovu said.