Picture: for illustration purposes

Devastating Fire Causes Uncertainty and Loss for Johannesburg Residents

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

The City of Johannesburg reels from the devastating fire that engulfed a city-owned five-story apartment building at the junction of Albert and Delvers Streets, resulting in a significant loss of life and displacement of nearly 200 households. The unfortunate incident, which occurred on Thursday, claimed a tragic total of 74 lives.

The building that suffered this calamitous event was reclaimed after a hijacking incident a few years back. City manager Floyd Brink was compelled to close the building indefinitely, barring all previous residents from reentering the premises for their safety.

To ensure the well-being of the residents and fulfill human necessities, Brink has identified three temporary sites to house the fire victims. These include the Hofland Recreation Centre in Bez Valley, the Ekhaya shelter in Hillbrow, and the Impilo shelter in Fairview/Jeppestown. After an estimate of 72 hours, the city’s human settlements department will provide further guidance on future accommodations.

As the city reels, forensic investigators are probing the cause of the blaze, and emergency helpline services have been set up for concerned loved ones with numbers being 0800 203 886, (011) 355-3048 and (011) 241-5707.

Brink praises the efforts of the Johannesburg's EMS, who responded to the fire alert swiftly, arriving at the scene within a mere ten minutes of initial alert. Multiple medical assistance units were promptly deployed, and a total of 61 individuals were treated at various medical facilities around the city by 2pm on Thursday.

The social development department of Joburg is offering significant social and psychological support to those affected by the fire. It has deployed 16 social workers to provide trauma counselling and psychosocial support while working closely with the human settlements department to coordinate accommodation for survivors and those impacted by the fire.

The building's difficult past was also highlighted by Brink, who explained that it was used as a civic leased shelter for abused women. However, it experienced issues including invasion and hijacking, leading to a raid by city enforcement officers in 2019 and multiple detentions.

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