Spike in fires during last three months of 2022 – report

Fifty-two of the 70 fire-related deaths that happened across Cape Town in the last three months of 2022 happened in informal settlements, according to a report tabled at a northern suburbs sub-council meeting. File picture: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA).

The City’s fire department responded to 8499 fires, car crashes and other emergencies causing R10 billion in property damage across Cape Town in the last three months of 2022, up from 5069 incidents causing R500 million damage in the previous quarter.

The fires damaged or destroyed shacks, houses, vehicles and commercial buildings among others, and 52 of the 70 fire-related deaths happened in informal settlements.

This is according to a reported tabled at a Sub-council 2 meeting on Wednesday.

Sub-council 2 wards, which include the Cilmor industrial area in the west, Bloekombos and Wallacedene in the east, Kuils River in the south and Haasendal smallholdings in the north, had 375 fires, up from 194 in the previous quarter.

The divisional commander of fire services, Steve Abrahamse, who presented the report, said firefighters were attacked or robbed in some communities as they tried to do their duty.

Zingisani Moepa, secretary of Kraaifontein Development Forum, previously told Northern News that there was a need for innovative steps to prevent fires in informal settlements.

Heat-detection technology in informal settlements was not effective as fire services still found it hard to get into the densely crowded areas, he said, adding that water tanks with hoses should be set up in informal settlements as a short-term solution, and for residents to be trained to fight fires.

City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse told Northern News that the 20-fold increase in the cost of property damage caused by fires and other emergencies dealt with by the fire department could be attributed to a spike in the commercial fires.