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Jika Joe blaze leaves several residents destitute
18 May 2010
Thami Magubane

A FIRE gutted homes at the Jika Joe informal settlement in the early hours of yesterday morning, leaving one person with burn wounds, 25 others destitute and at least nine informal housing structures razed to the ground.

The fire allegedly started at about 4 am when one of the residents fell asleep with his candle lit. The candle fell to the floor and burned down the informal structures in the top part of the settlement in Masukwane Road.

By yesterday morning, many of the residents were busy cleaning up, but there was little to salvage as most of their belongings had been burned to ashes. A handful of people managed to retrieve items such as blankets.

Jeff Wicks of Netcare 911 said the person who was burnt on his arms was injured as he fought the blaze. He was stabilised by paramedics and transported to hospital.

Mlamuli Mtolo, one of the affected residents, said in the past 11 years of living in the area, he has been a victim of fires at least three times.

“Every winter this happens, today there is fire here and soon the fire will be at the settlement across the river,” said Mtolo.

“I woke up to find that the area had already been overwhelmed by the fire, and I managed to rescue just a few belongings and the rest were burned. Now I need to look for materials so I can rebuild my house and have a place to sleep tonight,” he said.

Bheki Dladla, a community leader at the settlement, said it is high time the city fulfills its mandate and builds houses for the people. “They need to get rid of all the shacks here because this is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Disaster Management chief John Gutridge said they were looking at providing the materials such as food, tents and blankets to the many people affected by the fire.

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