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City flat fire leaves tenants homeless

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The entire building, comprising of 32 units, was evacuated and one person was transported to hospital following the blaze

DESTRUCTION: A large amount of damage was caused when a fire ripped through the municipal flats in Beaconsfield yesterday. Picture: Danie van der Lith

SEVERAL flat tenants were uncertain where they would sleep last night after a fire broke out in a municipal-owned block of flats in Beaconsfield yesterday afternoon.

Although no major injuries were reported, the fire rendered several of the flats in the block uninhabitable as a result of major smoke and water damage.

The entire building, comprising of 32 units, was evacuated and one person was transported to hospital following the blaze that caused extensive damage to several flats in the block, Krisant Court, in Frederick Place.

A resident, Natalie Bailey, said that she had noticed smoke coming from a flat yesterday afternoon, prompting her to investigate.

“When I first arrived the smoke was so thick that I couldn’t enter,” she said at the scene. “Eventually, the resident got out safely and said that he had been frying wors in his kitchen when the fire broke out.

“While there is some damage in the kitchen, most of the blaze seemed to have occurred in the bedroom. I’m not sure if he was cooking in bed or simply fell asleep with a lit cigarette.”

Tenants living in the block of flats looked on as emergency services extinguished the flames but many indicated that they were uncertain about where they would be spending the evening as their own flats had suffered major water and smoke damage.

“Where is the ward councillor now?” they asked. “He is always here very quickly when it suits him or when elections are approaching but when we need him, he is nowhere to be seen.

“He is getting a massive paycheck for doing nothing, while we don’t even know where we are going to be sleeping tonight.”

Freelance journalist, Douglas Mthukwane, who lives in the complex where the fire broke out, was transported to hospital by ER24, to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Apart from Mthukwane, who said that he had been at home working on an article for a US-based publication at the time of the incident, no other injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, said that the matter was being investigated.

He was, however, unable to comment on whether disruptions to the city’s water supply had hindered fire fighters’ efforts in extinguishing the blaze timeously.

“At this stage, I haven’t spoken to emergency services so it is impossible to say whether there were any problems,” Matsie said. “What we can say is that the cause of the fire is the subject of an investigation and we are looking into the matter.”