Cape Town is the fire capital of SA

Thulani Gqirana, News24

Parliament – Cape Town is South Africa's most fire-prone city, figures released by the government have revealed.

It had the highest number of fire incidents of any South African city for three years running between 2011 and 2013, according to the Human Settlements Ministry.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary written question, published on Tuesday.

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota wanted to know if the department had kept a register of township and informal settlement fires since 2010.

The Human Settlements Minister's office said the numbers for 2014 would only be available next year, while the 2015 numbers would be released in 2017 by the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa, which they relied on for accurate information.

While most fires occurred in greater Durban's Ethekwini municipal area in 2010, the City of Cape Town has held the record for three years thereafter.

The figures for Cape Town in 2010 were 190 fires in formal settlements and 172 in informal settlements.

In 2013, these figures were 1 097 for formal settlements and 1 118 for informal settlements.

In formal dwellings, the causes of fires included electrical, open flames and cooking or heating. While in informal settlements, the causes also included arson and smoking.

In November, two people were killed and thousands displaced at the Masiphumelele informal settlement.

On December 5, 100 people were left homeless when their homes burned down in two different areas in Cape Town.

In the parliamentary reply, the department said some of the new, effective measures of dealing with fires included the Informal Settlements Upgrading Programme.

"In the metropolitan areas the department in conjunction with the metropolitan municipalities are funding the roll-out of solar lighting as well as improved cooking facilities for households, in order to limit the use of fossil fuels and liquid fuels, which are a major cause of fires in informal settlements," the department said.