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Fire leaves city family destitute

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The community lashed out at the fire brigade, claiming that they had dragged their feet before attending to the fire

DESTITUTE: Miriam Ndou, who lives with her 23 year-old daughter has lost everything after a fire gutted their shanty in Greenpoint soon after they had left for work on Friday morning. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A GREENPOINT family has been left destitute and with only the clothes on their backs after their shack burnt down.

The owner of the shanty, Miriam Ndou, said that she had lost everything after a raging fire destroyed her shanty and all her belongings on Friday.

Ndou said she was at work when she received a call about the fire.

“I was at work and one of the community members told me to rush home. I got here and my shanty had already burnt to the ground. The fire was already extinguished and I saw that there was nothing to salvage everything was in ashes,” she said while staring at the remains of her home.

Ndou said all her personal belongings and even some money she had saved up was destroyed in the fire.

“My identity document as well as that of my daughter was destroyed in the fire. I had about R1 000 inside the shanty and that is now also gone. I really do not know where I will start to rebuild my life as I feel so helpless. People said I should be thankful that nobody died in the fire. Some think that it is just furniture and earthly belongings but these were things I had worked hard for and now it is all gone.”

Ndou was surrounded by neighbours and community members who came to show her their support.

They speculated about what caused the fire as the shanty had electricity and Ndou claimed that all appliances were switched off before she left for work.

The community also lashed out at the fire brigade, claiming that they had dragged their feet before attending to the fire.

“The fire brigade took their time to get to the scene. This after we had called them several times.

“When the fire brigade eventually got here the fire was already extinguished by a group of youngsters who fought the blaze,” they said.

The group of youngsters, aged between 17 and 34 years, said that they used water and sand to extinguish the fire.

“We were in the same street where the shanty is located. We first saw the thick black smoke in the sky and realised something was wrong. We hurried down the street and saw the shanty was in flames. We immediately connected the water hose from the yard and one next door to extinguish the fire.

“We then realised that the fire will spread to the house adjacent to the shanty. A group of us then went to break down the door of the house in order to get inside and to switch off all electrical plugs inside the house. We also pulled the curtains inside the house down in order for them not to catch fire. The house was already full of smoke at that time but we managed to save the house from burning down too,” they said.

The group said they also used other methods to fight the fire.

“We got buckets and filled them with soil as it seemed like the water was not extinguishing the blaze fast enough. We threw the soil on the fire and all our efforts later seemed to be successful. When the fire brigade arrived the fire had already died. We are now ready to become firefighters,” they joked.

Police spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, said that the police are investigating the matter.

“On Friday, September 7, 2018, at about 10am, a shack in Soga Street in Greenpoint caught fire.

“No people were at home at the time of the incident and the police have opened an inquiry with regards to the incident,” said Kock.

“The shack and everything inside was burnt to ashes. The house next to the shack also had some smoke damage due to the fire. The community and the fire brigade assisted with extinguishing the fire.

“The investigation continues.”