• June 19th, 2019
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Shack fire reduces 19 to destitution

WINDHOEK – Apart from cash of over N$30 000 that went up in flames, 19 people were also left destitute when fire ravaged their homes in two informal settlements in the capital. 
Both affected families now need assistance to rebuild their homes.

A family of 13 people from Okahandja Park informal settlement were left with only the clothes on their backs when their shack caught fire on Monday morning.  

No one knows what caused the fire but it started around 06h00 in one of the occupant’s rooms, who had left early for work. Of the 13 people only four are employed but in low-income jobs such as security guards and street vendoring.

According to a relative who requested that her name not be mentioned, they use portable lights for lighting and a gas stove for cooking in the kitchen, so they don’t understand how the fire started in the bedroom. The shack had five bedrooms with a kitchen and sitting room. The family uses a generator to watch television. Apart from furniture being destroyed in the fire, school uniforms, books and clothing were ruined as well.

 “We couldn’t take out anything from this house as the fire spread too fast. Within 10 minutes everything was destroyed, it was so fast,” narrated the distraught shack fire survivor.

The relative’s boyfriend went to call the fire brigade whose fire station is in the same vicinity. But the family say the fire truck had to call for back-up as the truck didn’t have enough water.

The relative added that apart from losing personal belongings in the fire, N$3 500 from her boyfriend’s taxi business also got burnt inside. She had planned to bank the money on Monday.

An additional N$27 000 from a soccer tournament held over the weekend at the settlement also got burnt in the fire, while N$2 000 belonging to one of the relatives was lost in the incident.

 Similarly, a family of six from Havana informal settlement lost everything in a fire that ravaged their home while away at church on Sunday.  It has been the family’s home for the past 17 years. The shack owner, unemployed Ester Shaanika, said there is no electricity hence they used a paraffin stove, which she was sure they had switched off before leaving the house in the morning.

Shaanika said her neighbours detected flames coming from inside the shack around 13h00. “There was no one at home. We are really in need of help, because nothing came out of that fire. We don’t know what we are going to do or where to stay should it rain. We got the food we ate last night from the neighbours,” said Shaanika who got a temporary tent from her neighbour. She cannot reuse the zinc sheets that got burnt in the fire to rebuild her shack as they now got holes in them.
Shaanika’s three school-going children were left without uniforms or shoes. “We’re only left with what we are wearing,” the unemployed mother said.

Selma Ikela
2018-10-31 09:10:10 7 months ago

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