Tuesday saw Cape Town firefighters being forced to withdraw from an informal settlement fire due to “hostile crowds”. Law enforcement officers also had to leave the area.

Firefighters and law enforcement officers were on the scene after the city’s fire and rescue services had responded to a blaze in the Pooke se Bos informal settlement near Rylands on the Cape Flats.

100 structures had been engulfed by the fire, leaving 400 people homeless, before 36 firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze at 7:30 on Tuesday morning. The City’s fire and rescue services spokesperson, Theo Layne, says he’s uncertain what the crowd was unhappy about.

“Whilst we were busy, suddenly this crowd becomes very volatile and the first thing we need to do is safeguard the firefighters. Law enforcement, who were also on the scene, had to also withdraw with us because of the unsafe conditions,” he said.

“Unfortunately (this happens often) and it’s usually for reasons that we are no aware of at the time or in some cases… it’s protest related,” said Layne.

No one was injured and no city vehicles were damaged, the cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Layne said the city’s disaster risk management department would assess the needs of the people affected by the fire to determine whether they needed material resources to rebuild their homes and provide food.

Photography Sataar Parker on Twitter

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