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Cape Town Fire and Rescue responds to almost 500 fires since May

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By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

Since the start of May, the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Department has responded to almost 500 fire-related incidents. Speaking on VOC Breakfast on Monday morning, Fire and Rescue spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said his department has been inundated with reports of both formal and informal fires.

“We have seen an uptick in fire-related reports in the past month. We’ve responded to about 255 informal structure fires and approximately 250 fires in formal dwellings,” Carelse stated.

Reflecting on a recent blaze that left over 100 people homeless in the Overcome Heights Informal Settlement near Seawinds, Carelse mentioned that, fortunately, no fatalities were recorded. “I am not aware of any fatalities at the Overcome Heights fires. Only a few structures were destroyed. Aid organizations such as Gift of the Givers have been beneficial in providing relief to those affected by fire incidents, whether on the Cape Flats, provincially, or even regionally,” he added.

When asked if more fires are reported in winter compared to other seasons, Carelse confirmed that they have noticed an increase. “We do see an increase in fire-related reports during the winter months. This is often because people use homemade fires to keep warm. Loadshedding also contributes to fire incidents, as unexpected power outages can cause sparks that lead to flames,” he explained.

Carelse further detailed the challenges his department faces when trying to extinguish fires, especially in informal settlements. “When responding to fires in informal settlements, we encounter narrow roads and built-up areas. Additionally, the personal belongings of some residents are placed on the roads, which obstructs firefighters, making it difficult to reach the fire.”

VOC News

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