Toddler killed in fire
Deputy police commissioner Erastus Iikuyu released the identity of the victim and stated that the next of kin of the deceased were informed. “It is alleged that the fire started after a minor boy residing in one of the destroyed shacks, left a cooking pot unattended on a stove. He locked the shack and left,” said Iikuyu. He also confirmed that 111 residents were left homeless after 23 shacks on four different properties were destroyed in the blaze. The flames that were fuelled by the presence of a breeze, spread rapidly.
Dennis Basson the Fire chief of Walvis Bay the municipality advised parents to ensure the safety of children in emergency situations. “The mother of the child that died apparently lost sight of her child during the commotion.” He called on residents to be extra careful when storing highly flammable items. “We found diesel tanks, gas bottles and piles of wood stored on some premises. These items are endangering the lives of residents and can cause considerable destruction when a fire erupts. He also pleaded with community members to respect and protect fire hydrants. “It is everyone’s duty. This is our first source of a constant flow of water when fighting fires. People are vandalizing and selling the taps for scarp and this makes it tough for us to fight fires.”
According to Basson, the municipality could provide immediate relief for the victims of the fire. “After the blaze, a frontend loader was brought in and the area was cleared of rubble. Twenty-two tents were also pitched for the displaced people. Mattresses, blankets, food parcels and tins of fish were handed over. Emergency water lines with taps were installed and skip bins were deployed for the disposal of rubble.” Basson further said that the swift response of the fire brigade prevented more damage. “Our response time was excellent. A municipal official who was at the scene when the fire started reported the fire through the proper channels. There was a strong wind that fuelled the flames. We managed to contain and extinguish the blaze.”
He however condemned the presence of a large group of bystanders at the scene and called on the police to avail more manpower to protect firefighters during incidents. “They are hampering us to do our work and something must be done about this. Many of these persons do not do anything constructive but merely observe what’s happening. They converge, stand around and prevent us to get to the fire. People are also aggressive against us.”
The chairperson of the Management Committee of the municipality of Walvisbay, Richard Hoaeb who was at the scene of the fire, called on leaders to unite in order to provide better housing for all Namibians. “The fact that shack fires are happening more and more in Walvis Bay and lives, as well as properties are lost, is an outcry. We as leaders should take this seriously. It calls for drastic measures and action. Our people need decent housing, our people need decent structures based on building regulations and should not in this day and age be living in shacks while we have vast land that is available in this country,” he said.