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Fire destroys dozens of shacks in Alex

ALEXANDRA - An early morning fire has destroyed dozens of shacks in Alexandra near the Thusong Youth Centre on Josias Madzunya Street.

Alexandra residents of the Phase One shack land were lucky to escape with their lives when an early morning fire destroyed more than 60 shacks this morning.

Spokesperson of the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services Robert Mulaudzi said there were no casualties and no one was injured from the blazing fire that started at 7am opposite the Thusong Youth Centre on Josias Madzunya Street.

Although Mulaudzi insisted that the cause of the fire was an unattended stove left burning in the shack, eyewitnesses told Alex News the fire started on an electric pole. “We saw a ball of fire shoot up from the pole and then it died down and started creeping down the pole following the electrical wires and ignited the shacks on the ground,” eyewitness Maureen Phiri said.

Shack dwellers are known to illegally connect themselves to these electrical poles and bystanders were murmuring that illegal connections could have triggered the fire, considering that last night was one of the coldest nights of this winter.

“It was just ┬áluck that no deaths or injuries were reported. I think our educational message are beginning to bear fruit in Alexandra,” Mulaudzi said. “It was also fortunate that the fire started during the day. If it was at night, I am sure we would have witnessed horrible deaths and burns,” said councillor Shadrack Mkhonto, one of the first councillors on the scene.

As it is often said in IsiZulu, “ukufa kwendoda wukuvuka kwenye”, which literally means that some people stand to benefit from the sorrows of others, as they helped themselves to burnt metal items they could lay their hands on for resale to the scrapyards.

“We are going to make a killing,” they boasted as firemen and women battled to control them. Some had already come pushing dustbins and wheelbarrows which they used to load the burnt items. One man had actually hired a bakkie and was seen loading items such as refrigerators and washing machines.

23 August 9am

An official of the Johannesburg Emergency Management services said he had no record of any deaths or injuries, but said it was still too early as they had to douse the fire and move in to find casualties, if there were any.

The fire is said to have been caused by an electrical fault on a pole in the middle of the shack land. Eyewitnesses said a flame shot up the electrical pole at about 7am. It then moved along the electrical wires into the nearby shacks and soon the whole neighbourhood was engulfed in a raging fire, said eyewitnesses Maureen Phiri and community worker Mmantwa Masoga, who live in the vicinity.

Some residents described a woman as having been slightly burnt as she rushed her children to safety.

Masoga said close to 60 shacks could be affected by the fire that totally destroyed and flattened the entire area. Only a handful of items were retrieved.


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