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Fri Dec 19 19:28:22 SAST 2014

Fire damaged 76 St Francis Bay houses, cause unknown

Sapa | 12 November, 2012 14:38
"The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage but the SAPS forensic unit will be investigating." File photo.
Image by: BEV MORTIMER

A fire destroyed or damaged 76 houses in St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape, the Kouga municipality said on Monday.

"[The] number of houses razed or damaged by last night's [Sunday's] fire has been put at 76," spokeswoman Laura-Leigh Randall said.

"Mop-up operations are underway. The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage but the SAPS forensic unit will be investigating."

Earlier the Kouga municipality estimated over 100 houses were damaged.

Randall said Eastern Cape local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane was expected to arrive in St Francis Bay at 11am and then a briefing would take place in Humansdorp.

The fire started around 5.30pm on Sunday at the Royal Wharf developments.

Before midnight on Sunday night, the fire was half extinguished and not an immediate threat to other houses. Firefighters were sent home to sleep around 4am after the fire was extinguished.

The flames were fanned by a strong westerly wind. Ten fire engines had been brought in and more were called from the Nelson Mandela Bay and Koukamma municipalities, Randall said.

Firefighters from the Cacadu district municipality were at the scene monitoring the situation and checking for flare-ups, Randall said earlier.

Damage assessment was done on Monday. "[We are] busy finalising the report," she said.

All residents in the area had been asked to evacuate, and a temporary joint operations centre had been set up at the local police station.

The Democratic Alliance in the province on Monday offered support to the victims of the fire.

"The DA Eastern Cape extends its deepest sympathies for the loss of property and livelihoods in the devastating fire," provincial leader Athol Trollip said.

"The DA is relieved that the community was spared any loss of life. We stand in solidarity with all those who experienced loss in the midst of this tragedy."

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