WATCH | Burning building evacuated in Cape Town
Firefighters had to evacuate people trapped in a burning building in Cape Town on Thursday afternoon.
Some residents escaped the blaze with only the clothes on their backs.
"The city's fire and rescue services responded to Voortrekker Road and Alice Street in Goodwood where they are dealing with a building fire," the city's fire and rescue services' spokesman Theo Layne said earlier.
"Four fire engines, one hydraulic platform and a rescue vehicle is on the scene with 24 firefighters.
"The evacuation of the occupants above the floor where the fire is, is taking place. No injuries have been reported as yet," he said.
Lerato Visser, a pregnant mother of four, was still struggling to breathe almost two hours after she, her children and husband escaped from the flames.
The only clothes she could save was the morning gown she had on.
Residents claimed that the owner of the building did not maintain it properly.
Visser said she paid R6,000 a month for a single room and added that up to 200 people were crammed into the building. "I have lost everything. I don't know where we will sleep tonight. The only thing I saved are my children."
Fellow resident Patrick Cosmas, from Tanzania, lost his passport in the fire. The barber said he also lost his meagre daily takings. "My money burned in the fire. Other residents lost their asylum papers," he said.
"The fire started at second floor. No one knows what caused [it]. But what I can tell you now is that I am destitute."
He said there were too many people staying in the building.
Cyprian Cairncross, head of Cape Town fire services in the northern areas, said there were no casualties and the fire had later been contained. A building inspector was determining the extent of the damage. The cause of the blaze is yet to be determined.
Only the bar at the bottom of four storey building did not burn. Residents' belongings were strewn all over the place. Satellite dishes were reduced to twisted metal.
TimesLIVE could not immediately establish who owned the building. Residents pointed at a burly and unfriendly man, who denied that he was the owner. He said a few inaudible words in a stern voice to the residents.
Faizel Petersen, chairman of the Goodwood Ratepayers' Association, said several complaints had been lodged with the city about the building which was zoned as an office block, not for residential purposes.
"This building had been flagged as a problem building with the City of Cape Town for a period of time because this building is overpopulated and our neighbourhood watch had complained about unlawful activities happening here," said Petersen.
"Today is clearly an indication of what can happen if a building is not inspected properly and if complaints are not attended to. Fortunately, thus far we have not had any casualties but we want action taken."