Monday, July 14, 2008

Reduced to Ash

Kennedy Rd Settlement (Squatter Camp) next to Durban's main rubbish dump, (landfill site) caught fire this morning. No one can say for sure how it started but the usual suspects paraffin stove, candle etc were lined up. Once it got going the tightly packed wooden and scrap homes were soon devoured by the flames. By the time the local fire department arrived about eighty homes were reduced to ash. Some residents tried vainly to douse the flames with buckets of water to no avail. I was somewhat drenched by a fire fighters damaged hose. They told me getting their equipment to the fire is a hazardous business with illegal overhead electric cables and sharp objects that snag their extended high pressure hoses. Hundreds of people will have to find alternative accommodation tonight but will no doubt return to rebuild their shacks tomorrow. I was amazed by the acceptance of the calamity until the firemen pointed out the remains of old fires they had previously extinguished. It appears that squatter camp fires are a way of life which one has to live with. Fortunately no one was seriously injured this time.