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Authorities assessing impact of Overcome Heights fire

Officials estimate 500 homes were destroyed in a massive blaze that started in the area late on Thursday.

This 16-year-old girl feeds her 2-year-old brother porridge from a pot. This all they have left following the blaze that destroyed over 500 homes in Overcome Heights on Thursday (25 October 2018) night. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN

OVERCOME HEIGHTS - Cape Town's Disaster Risk Management Centre is assessing how many people have been affected by the latest devastating informal settlement fire to hit the city.

Hundreds of informal settlement dwellers are waiting for help on Friday following a devastating fire at Overcome Heights near Muizenberg.

Officials estimate 500 homes were destroyed in a massive blaze that started in the area late on Thursday.

Many Overcome Heights residents spent the night on a field among debris with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Others were luckier as they had enough time to salvage some of their belongings like mattresses, blankets and stoves before the flames spread to their homes.

These residents are now keeping a watchful eye on the little they have left, fearing that the fire victims who have lost everything, will steal their belongings.

A 16-year-old girl is one of them and she's sitting with her two-year-old brother feeding him porridge from a pot while guarding three mattresses, blankets and a bag of clothes.

Their mother is queuing metres away, waiting to share her personal information with disaster risk officials.

It’s not yet clear what caused the fire.

Pumeza Mpaka, one of the residents, said: “It was windy and so cold; people were hungry and there was nothing to eat.”

This is the fourth major informal settlement blaze in the Cape Town area this week.

Over the weekend, one person was killed and 300 homes destroyed in Khayelitsha, two died and 100 were displaced in Hangberg and 1,000 residents were displaced in Philippi.

‘I COULDN’T DO ANYTHING’

Overcome Heights residents are hard at work clearing charred zinc sheets and picking up pieces of burnt out electrical appliances.

Standing in a pink hooded gown, Sandiswa Zidawi watches the workers, saying she has nothing left of her own belongings to clear or salvage.

She says she’s traumatised after witnessing Thursday's devastation.

Zidawi says she was trying to help her neighbour when she realised the fire had spread to her home, she managed to grab her two-year-old child and a small bag of her clothes before fleeing leaving her without food and with barely anything left.

“I just saw smoke from my neighbour’s house. While I was trying to help her, my house was catching fire and I couldn’t do anything.”

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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