Alex fire could have started before pylon collapse, says City Power

06 March 2019 - 17:38 By Naledi Shange
City Power continues its investigation into whether an electricity pylon collapsing caused the fire which broke out in the Alexandra township on Tuesday.
City Power continues its investigation into whether an electricity pylon collapsing caused the fire which broke out in the Alexandra township on Tuesday.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

City Power on Wednesday said the fire at Stjwetla informal settlement on Tuesday could have started before an electricity pylon collapsed and landed on some shacks.

The fire, in the Alexandra informal settlement, broke out on Tuesday afternoon. Scores of shacks were razed and hundreds were left homeless and displaced.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said: "Initial reports suggested that the fire was started when a City Power pylon collapsed on to the shacks.

"However, witnesses and our preliminary investigation suggest otherwise ... that the pylon fell during the fire, which had started earlier in one shack. We, therefore, cannot conclusively say the fire was started by the pylons and live overhead lines."

Mangena said the pylons had been designed to withstand the harshest weather and strongest winds.

"So our investigation will also look into whether the pylon structure was weakened or possibly vandalised during the encroachment by the shacks around it, making it susceptible to falling," he said.

Meanwhile, City Power said the repair cost could be R3m-R5m.

By Wednesday, the power utility had begun with efforts to fix the power lines and replace the pylon.

"The work will not affect the supply of electricity as we have managed to back-feed to the areas that were initially cut yesterday," Mangena said.

Meanwhile, disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers said it was continuing in its efforts to assist the displaced who started rebuilding their shacks on Wednesday.

The group said it had given 200 blankets and mattresses to the victims.

"Initial assessment puts the number of victims at 1,500 with about 500 homes destroyed," said founder Imtiaz Sooliman.

"A number of victims have taken shelter in Gift of the Givers 'Green Village' since last night. The village is in close proximity to the disaster area," Sooliman said. 

Others were reportedly housed in nearby churches and a crèche.

Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers said it had since prepared 350 food packs, hygiene packs, gloves to clear debris, and other essential supplies.

"All donated supplies to disaster management and Gift of the Givers will be housed at our village and distributed from here in an organised manner. Contributions of roof sheeting, linen, towels, new clothing, blankets, mattresses, sanitary pads, bottled water, food and hygiene items will be accepted," Sooliman added.


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