Hundreds homeless after fire ravages Kya Sands

Lizeka Tandwa,News24

Johannesburg - Hundreds of people will have no place to sleep after a fire ravaged over 200 shacks at an informal settlement at Kya Sands on Wednesday afternoon.

Four fire engines, a water tanker and 20 firefighters worked until nightfall, fighting a blaze which swept through most shacks at Msawawa informal settlement near Kya Sands, north of Johannesburg.

The black smoke could be seen from 40km away, as officials battled to contain the blazing inferno.

Johanesburg emergency spokesperson Nana Radebe said government departments and NPO's are scrambling to find accommodation for the displaced residents.

"So far, we have counted over 100 people that will be needing accommodation, but we expect the number to accelerate as we progress. Some people have already started building new shacks but most of the people will need to be moved to a secure place," Radebe said.

‘Save our homes’

When News24 visited on Wednesday, dozens of people were running around trying to salvage what they could of their belongings. Some men, whose shacks were burning in front of them, pleaded with officials to save their homes. Some shack dwellers tried to help firefighters contain the fire.

Shack dwellers told News24 that they believed the fire was started by a generator from one of the shacks. Radebe, however, said they could not say "definitively, what caused the fire".

Radebe told News24 social development and human settlement officials were busy trying to find halls to shelter the community.

Radebe said various organisations including Pikitup, Shoprite Mobile Soup Kitchens, Judah Africa, Johannesburg Water, and Gift of the Givers Foundation were busy assisting displaced shack dwellers with food and water.