Raging fire leaves families homeless

Residents lose all as Korsten building goes up in flames At least 40 people have been left homeless after a raging fire ripped through a Port Elizabeth building yesterday. Small groups of people milled around the Curtis Road building in Korsten – most still dressed in their pajamas. Everything from cash, furniture and televisions to personal documents was lost in the blaze within minutes of the fire star ting. Heavily pregnant, and now homeless with two children, Nicolene Campher, 30, sat at the back of a van, with a slice of bread filled with chips. “It’s all I can afford right now,” she said. Campher, wearing a pink gown, had her two children beside her. “There was no time to grab anything. All we could do was save ourselves.” She said they had stood huddled together to keep warm until the sun came up. Abdi Rahman Husen, 25, said he had woken up to the smell of smoke at about 1am. “There was smoke and fire coming in from the ceiling. As I went to open my door I dropped the keys and couldn’t see them because of the smoke.” He ended up breaking down the door and was slightly injured during his run to safety with his wife and child. Husen said his family had lost all their belongings, including furniture worth more than R30 000. “I stood outside and cried because I realised that everything I had worked for was gone.” Hassan Chilimba, 28, said he had just run out of the building and left everything behind. “I’ve only got the clothes on my back. “I was sleeping and heard people screaming. “My television is gone, my clothes, my furniture, my phones, my laptop and about R5 000 I was keeping for rent,” Chilimba said. Ward 11 councillor Isaac Adams said he had worked with the residents and police to get people out of the burning building. “Only one person sustained more serious injuries and is being treated at Dora Nginza Hospital. The wind also played a part in spreading the fire.” Adams said he had contacted the owners of the building. “[They said] they are not interested in what happened and the people should sort themselves out”. He said the fire had probably been caused by illegal electricity connections. “[But the] infrastructure was not conducive to human living standards and maintenance had been ignored.” The municipality’s disaster management unit distributed mattresses and food.