Shack fire leaves 15 families destitute

A SECOND fire in two months has razed 15 shacks in Cato Crest outside Durban.

A SECOND fire in two months has razed 15 shacks in Cato Crest outside Durban.

The fire swept through the informal settlement just after midnight on Tuesday, leaving more than 40 residents homeless.

Residents said they had been left with "nothing" and were fed up with constantly having to rebuild their lives.

The fire allegedly started when a man fell asleep while cooking.

"The guy who started the fire was taken away by the police because he is scared. We might have taken the law into our hands had the police not taken him away. We are tired of this kind of life. Imagine living like this," Doris Dlamini said.

A heavily pregnant Thembi Ngcobo, 27, said she was equally frustrated with having to buy everything from scratch. She said everything she had bought for her baby had been destroyed.

"I only knew there was a fire when my bed was on fire. I could not even go work today. I have not been able to brush my teeth and the only thing I have is my ID. I have nowhere to go and have to rebuild my house today," Ngcobo said.

Celiwe Machi said: "I lost everything too. My cellphone, money and clothes. I've got nowhere to go. I have to rebuild my house right where it burnt down. The sad thing is that this is the second time this has happened. The last fire was on February 15," Machi said.

The operations manager of Fire Stop - a fire awareness NGO - Simon Thomas, said preventing fires in shacks was not difficult.

"People just need to remember to put their candles out and turn stoves off at night. The problem with shack fires is that shacks are built too close together and as a result fires spread very quickly. We can expect more fires as winter approaches and people try to keep warm."

Residents said Mayville police arrested a man but the police could not confirm this at the time of going to press.