Alex fires: 500 homes destroyed, Joburg City calls Ekhurhuleni to assist

Many residents were left destitute as their homes went up in flames in Alexandra, North of Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon.

It is believed that about 500 homes were destroyed. Could a quicker response by the city's emergency services have curbed the spread of the fire?

READ: Over 20 shacks destroyed by fire in Alexandra, two fire deaths in Cape Town

Speaking to Bongani Bingwa MMC for Public Safety in the City of Johannesburg Michael Son says one needs to understand how informal settlements were established. A proper system of fire hydrants was never installed.

Son disputes that City didn't respond adequately or on time.

The City of Joburg sent out three fire engines to deal with the fire and there were no fire hydrants near the scene of the fire. The only fire hydrant that the firefighters could find was already broken by local community members and used as a source of fresh water.

Micheal Son, MMC for Public Safety in the City of Johannesburg

The fire hydrant also had very low water pressure which took more time to fill the tanks, he explains.

The City of Ekhurhuleni provided three fire trucks and firefighters to assist.

We have already started with our disaster management process and people were taken to emergency shelters. We have our relief partners supporting us with blankets.

Micheal Son, MMC for Public Safety in the City of Johannesburg

Mayor Herman Mashaba is scheduled to visit Alexandra on Friday to see how the mayor's office can assist those affected by the fire and help rebuild the homes.

Son insists the City has always been transparent about not having an adequate supply of fire engines and needing assistance from the City of Ekhurhuleni.

Listen below to the full interview:


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