Cause of Twaloloka fire ‘impossible’ to determine

Fire hydrants blocked by onlookers

29 July 2020 | Disasters

LEANDREA LOUW

WALVIS BAY

The Walvis Bay Fire Brigade had their hands full trying to subdue a massive fire in Twaloloka settlement this past Sunday evening, while being protected by police from an angry mob armed with knives and pangas.
The blaze claimed the life of a three-year-old boy and left hundreds homeless.
About 150 shacks burnt to the ground, leaving residents with nothing but the clothes they were wearing at the time.
The situation worsened when onlookers began pelting firefighters, police reservists and municipality workers with stones.
It later emerged that it was not Twaloloka residents who clashed with the armed forces.

Scratched and bruised
A firefighter said they had to extinguish the fire while a group of onlookers, armed with pangas (machetes) and okapis (pocket knives) crowded around them.
Fire chief Dennis Basson said the members of his team are all okay, bar a few scratches and bruises.
“One of the firefighters was hit on the nose and threatened with a panga. Otherwise, they are doing okay. Some of the firehoses were also cut. Without the police and the armed forces providing protection, the situation would have been much more disastrous.”

Impossible
Basson said establishing what caused the fire would be impossible.
“I can guarantee that we will not be able to determine the exact cause of the fire since the scene was tampered with. The scene was disturbed as there was way too much interference.”
The site was only cordoned off by police on Monday morning at approximately 10:00.
“We understood that a candle might have been involved, however, this is not conclusive.”
Basson further said there are three fire hydrants in Twaloloka. “We specially installed the hydrants last year, but we simply could not access them with all the people at the scene,” he said.

Quick response
He said the fire brigade received a call at 19:32 and the first crew left for Twaloloka at 19:40.
“The first crew went out with two fire trucks and our water tanker to assist with additional water. Upon arrival, we realised it would be a challenge since people parked their vehicles in the roads and were standing all over the scene.”
According to Basson, this made it almost impossible for the firefighters to get close to the scene.
“Another challenge was that we could not implement a proper strategy to fight the fire since we could not deploy our trucks and equipment properly. We were battling with people hampering us in executing our official duties,” he said.

Treated for injuries
Meanwhile, the municipal water truck was pelted with stones and the driver had to hide in the truck during the onslaught.
He was treated in hospital for his injuries and has since been discharged.
The fire chief refuted allegations that fire trucks are parked without water at the fire station.
“It is law, internationally, that you keep your fire trucks filled and parked with water. The only time a fire truck is without water is when it is taken out of the fleet for repairs or written-off. The moment we get called out for a fire, that truck must be ready. For us to first fill up a truck before going to a fire scene would waste 10 to 15 minutes, which is precious time when dealing with a fire. This has never and will never happen.”
Basson advised that everyone should know emergency numbers. “The fire brigade’s emergency number is 081 922. At all times, make way for fire trucks to reach the scene. Bystanders should immediately give way for the firefighters to deploy their equipment properly. Please be patient during these trying times. We really need to assist each other in any way we can.”

[email protected]

Similar News

 

Few countries prepared for drought

1 day - 22 September 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKOnly a few countries in the world have fully-fledged drought management policies, while most nations' interventions tend to focus on response.Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta...

Locusts bring hunger, devastation

1 week ago - 11 September 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKOutbreaks of African migratory locusts are threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.This was the...

Fire management critical for conservancies

2 weeks ago - 03 September 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEK It is more critical than ever for communal conservancies to keep fires at bay this year, as they depend even more...

Fires bring death, destruction

1 month - 04 August 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEK At least nine people have lost their lives in the 13 house and shack fires that were recorded over the past three weeks....

Cause of Twaloloka fire ‘impossible’ to determine

1 month - 29 July 2020 | Disasters

LEANDREA LOUWWALVIS BAYThe Walvis Bay Fire Brigade had their hands full trying to subdue a massive fire in Twaloloka settlement this past Sunday evening, while...

Forest fire management underway

1 month - 27 July 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEK Every year, forest fires burn about two million hectares of vegetation in fire-prone regions in Namibia, threatening...

Half of Namibians can't afford a healthy diet

2 months ago - 15 July 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe number of hungry people in Namibia has increased by 100 000 in over a decade, according to a United Nations report. However, there...

Family destitute after shack fire

2 months ago - 13 July 2020 | Disasters

Elizabeth Joseph WINDHOEKThirty-year-old Claudine Kambatuku’s entire life changed this on Saturday, 4 July when...

Onandjokwe hospital nearly burns down

2 months ago - 30 June 2020 | Disasters

ILENI NANDJATO ONDANDJOKWE The Onandjokwe State Hospital is investigating the cause of a fire that threatened the hospital last Friday afternoon. Although...

Fires wreak havoc

2 months ago - 25 June 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEK Fifteen shacks and two houses were destroyed by a fire this past weekend in Mondesa, Swakopmund....

Latest News

The evil that men do

8 hours ago | Crime

JEMIMA BEUKESREHOBOTH The mother of two-week-old Charmaine Moss, who died after allegedly being raped by her father, has revealed shocking details about what had transpired...

Death of football further divides...

8 hours ago | Opinion

At the time when Namibians are angry at so many things – Covid-19, high unemployment rates and general levels of poverty – sport is the...

IPC dissident opens case against...

8 hours ago | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEK Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) outcast Henry Ngenomesho has opened a case of assault by threat against party president Dr...

Antipsychotic drugs back in stock

8 hours ago | Health

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI After being out of stock for six months, the country has finally received antipsychotic and antidepressant medication....

Meatco works towards inclusivity

8 hours ago | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKMeatco hosted a stakeholder engagement meeting with mainly weekend farmers and members of the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) last week.These farmers are...

Meat industry players meet

8 hours ago | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKThe Meatco board last week paid a courtesy visit to the Meat Board of Namibia to discuss how to address crucial matters hampering the...

Breaking the stigma of dementia

8 hours ago | Health

ERWIN LEUSCHNERSWAKOPMUNDSwakopmund's Alzheimer Dementia Namibia (ADN) Centre is the only one of its kind in the country. Here around two dozen people are cared for...

Horrendous abortion

8 hours ago | Opinion

Modestus H We cannot live in the present without the past; we have to link them together. In the past, abortion was not as...

A seatbelt can save your...

8 hours ago | Opinion

FABIAN AMUKWELELEIn highly motorised countries, many deaths have been prevented by seatbelts. Yet, seatbelt compliance remains worryingly low in those countries, including Namibia, where vehicle...

Load More