Fifth fire at Woodstock shanty camp in two years, says councillor

A firefighter tackles the blaze at the shanty settlement on the corner of Pine Road and Victoria Road, in Woodstock.

A fire that swept through a shanty camp on the corner of Pine and Victoria roads, in Woodstock, on Monday, is the fifth one there in two years, says ward councillor Ian McMahon.

The fire, which destroyed about eight shacks that were home to 14 people, was reported at about 6.30am and more than 20 firefighters from Salt River, Roeland Street, Wynberg, Brooklyn and Epping fire stations extinguished it at 8am, said City Fire and Rescue spokesman Jermaine Carelse.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is still unknown.

“It is indeed very concerning to have regular fires here,” Mr McMahon said, adding that the residents of nearby houses were also concerned about the threat the frequent fires at the site posed to their homes.

• Last Friday, a sponsored van used to deliver and serve food to the needy was gutted in a fire on the corner of Albert and Greatmore streets, in Woodstock.

Eddie Thompson,62, the founder of the Woodstock/Salt River Upliftment Project, a non-profit, says he was woken up at around 4am by his wife who heard a sound outside their Albert Road home.

“She heard a thud sound and heard sparks coming from outside the street,” he said.

Mr Thompson said he had gone outside to find his Volkswagen Caddy on fire. He had tried to open the door, but the van was so hot that the driver’s side window shattered.

Residents and City Law Enforcement officers with a fire extinguisher helped to put out the fire.

Mr Carelse said they were aware of the incident, but he referred the Tatler to the police for more information.

Woodstock police station commander Colonel Delvyn Matroos said the cause of the fire was unknown at this stage.

Mr Thompson said a company had given him the van five months ago to aid his community work.

The Woodstock/Salt River Community Upliftment Project started in Mr Thompson’s kitchen in Albert Road, Woodstock, during the national lockdown for the pandemic in 2020 (“Woodstock residents feed vulnerable community members,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, April 16, 2020). The project also teaches the youth about tools and how to make furniture.

Mr Thompson said they gave meals to the elderly, various children’s homes and the homeless in the community. Local businesses supported the project and people from Pelican Park, Bonteheuwel and Manenberg helped with the cooking.

He had used his hatchback to deliver food and equipment before getting the Caddy, which had hauled a much bigger load.

“This is a big setback though I will have to wait to find out what the insurance says,” he said.

In the meantime he would use own vehicle once more.

He is appealing for donations of potatoes, onions, meat and fish as well as help to rent an office space in Woodstock, where he runs training for the youth. Call 074 728 2521, email upliftment20@gmail.com of find the project on Facebook.

The interior of this van used for community work was gutted in a fire.