Help for shack fire victims


05 January 2018 | Disasters

Otis Finck

Municipal councillors distributed blankets and goods to victims of a shack fire in Kuisebmond recently.

Eben Gawaxab, the founder of Helping Hands, and Stanley 'Ou Stakes' Hamaseb, a well known Ma-/Gaisa artist from the coast, collected clothes and shoes from organisations and individuals in Windhoek and handed it over to the municipality for distribution. The Walvis Bay Rural Constituency Office provided two tents and municipal employees also collected goods for distribution to the victims.

The fire destroyed two brick houses and 18 backyard shacks in Orakugweni and Bjorg Wallevile streets, Tutaleni suburb, on 26 December.

According to Maureen Somaes, a Tutaleni community committee member, 28 eight people were left homeless by the blaze which spread rapidly after it broke out. Among the victims are an 87-year-old grandmother, Tapita Ochorus, and a newborn baby, Charlie Klim.

Ochorus, who is bedridden, was carried out of the burning inferno by a group of children after her daughter, Whitney Gaises, ran out into the street and called for help. Baby Klim was rushed to hospital, treated for smoke inhalation and was released the following day.

It is suspected that the fire was caused by an electrical fault. The power supply apparently tripped on a number of occasions before the fire broke out.

Walvis Bay fire fighting chief, Dennis Basson, said it was not always possible to concretely say what could have caused a fire. He also described the last fire reported in 2017 as being one of the worst to have occurred.

“The flames destroy the evidence sometimes. The shacks were constructed in close proximity and the lack of safety distances between the structures further fuelled the flames and contributed to the destruction which occurred.”

Basson added that fire fighters will visit communities in the foreseeable future and share tips on fighting fires and what to do in case a fire erupts.

Fires destroyed more than 100 shacks in Walvis Bay and left over 500 people homeless in 2017.

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