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Fires blaze through Cape shack settlements

30 November 2015 - 02:14 By Philani Nombembe

Cape Town has been hit hard early this fire season. Two fires killed three people and left 4500 homeless as flames tore through informal settlements this weekend.In the most destructive fire, shack dwellers in Masiphumelele, near Fish Hoek, woke up in the early hours yesterday to raging flames that reduced their homes to ashes and twisted metal. About 1000 shacks were gutted.Nosimisele Moni, whose company is contracted by SA National Parks to clear alien weeds, lost one of her employees in the fire.Moni said she was devastated."I am shattered," she said. "I have known her for the past four years. I was told about her death this morning."My daughter can't stop crying after hearing the news because she knew her well."I am told she was visiting her boyfriend and they both died in the shack fire."Mayor Patricia de Lille said the city's fire and rescue services responded to the fire at around 1am yesterday when "an extensive area of reeds and informal structures caught fire".She confirmed that "one adult male and an adult female" died in the fire."Fourteen fire-fighting vehicles were deployed to the scene, where 65 fire and rescue services employees were assisted by Table Mountain National Parks personnel," said De Lille."The fire was extinguished at around 6am and crews are now busy with mopping-up operations and ensuring that the area is safe."The cause of the fire is not known and the police are investigating."Albert Fritz, Western Cape MEC for social development, said the fire was one of the worst this year.The Masiphumelele Community Hall is being used as an emergency shelter, and NGOs, including the Red Cross, are providing relief such as food, baby-care packs, mattresses and blankets.A fire broke out in Joe Slovo informal settlement, in Langa, just before midnight on Saturday and razed about 125 shacks.One man died and 500 people were displaced.The fire was extinguished at around 3am.Another blaze destroyed a home in Bloekombos, near Kraaifontein.Fritz said his department had dispatched social workers to give trauma counselling to residents and the relatives of those killed...

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