Kempton Park’s Pomona informal settlement fire displaces over 900 people
Around 900 people were left homeless when a fire destroyed nearly 200 shacks in the Pomona informal settlement in Kempton Park, north east of Johannesburg CBD, on Monday night, 30 September 2019. According to City of Ekurhuleni Emergency Management Services spokesperson, Aaron Mafunda, no deaths have been reported, despite the extent of the blaze. The fire broke out at around 19h00 and was extinguished shortly after midnight, Mafunda said. "We managed to extinguish the fire and there were no casualties."
Mafunda said the city's disaster management team was on the scene to assist those affected with alternative accommodation. However, locals were reluctant to leave the area, fearing that they might lose their possessions. "About 95 percent of the community refused to leave the area despite reassurance from the EMPD and SAPS. Perhaps we can start relocating those affected today [Tuesday]," Mafunda said.
It was unclear how or where the fire started. According to Mafunda, six different fire stations attended to the blaze. "Three tankers and six fire pumps were used to extinguish the fire.
Ekhuruleni executive mayor Mzwandile Masina was set to visit the scene of the fire on Tuesday. "The City of Ekurhuleni allocated three community halls in the area to house displaced citizens. A joint operations committee, comprising Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services, has been setup to provide humanitarian support in the area. Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire," the City said in a statement.
Ekurhuleni emergency services spokesperson William Ntladi said, "The fire was allegedly started by a gas cylinder that exploded around 19h00 after a resident left a cooking stove unattended. The fire spread to the rest of the shacks causing an uncontrollable blaze."
Mzwandile Masina, the mayor of Ekurhuleni, said plans to move the residents were under way.
On Monday night, various pictures and videos of the fire were posted on social media.
Kempton Express reported that the NG Church Bonaero Park on Malpensa Street had been made available as a drop-off point for clothes, blankets, food, water and other necessities.
The Siyaqhuba Mayoral Outreach Programme team will on Friday, 4 October 2019 visit the residents of Pomona informal settlement in Kempton Park who were affected by the devastating fire on Monday, 30 September 2019. More than 740 people were left destitute after over 200 shacks were burnt down in the area. The Executive Mayor visited the area the following day. Scores of them have since been housed in two temporal shelters. Different government departments and nongovernmental organisations have also joined the City in helping the affected residents.
On Friday, the team will assess the progress of helping these residents to rebuild their lives.
During Siyaqhuba outreach programme, the team comprising of the City’s senior managers from mainly service departments such as waste, energy, water and sanitation, and stormwater and roads visit parts of the City to assess and accelerate service delivery. This Friday the team will also visit Tembisa and Germiston.