CT winter fires claim at least 23 lives so far

The disaster risk management unit says officials have responded to more than 600 fires this year in the city.

FILE: Residents of the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in Hout Bay, Cape Town, help to clear the rubble after a fire ripped through a section. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - At least 23 people have died in house fires across Cape Town this winter so far.

The City of Cape Town's disaster risk management unit says officials have responded to more than 600 fires this year in the city.

The city says 131 people have died in house fires over the past 12 months.

Fatalities peaked last month when there were 23 deaths.

Disaster Risk Management's Charlotte Powell has urged residents to be careful.

"Do not smoke in bed, try to have an escape plan and that the whole family knows this plan. Keep a close eye on cooking stoves, do not cook near windows or curtains and don't go to bed with candles burning."

Families have also been forced to rebuild their lives after more than five thousand homes were razed to the ground over the past year.