“While clearing the debris, two bodies were discovered burnt beyond recognition.

A toddler has died in a devastating fire which ripped through the Vygieskraal informal settlement on Monday, days before her birthday.

It took firefighters four hours to contain the blaze, during which one other person also lost her life, and 179 dwellings were destroyed, leaving more than 700 people homeless.

Relatives of little Fatiema Sara Booysen, three, have been left traumatised after seeing the child’s charred body being carried away after she was trapped inside a burning hokkie.

Her heartbroken mother, Katrina, 33, says she was not at home when the fire swept through the settlement, as she had gone to hospital.

“I had to go for X-rays because my leg was broken and she was by the neighbour’s house where she was playing with her friends,” the devastated mom says.

“When I came back after 3pm, I saw the fire and they told me she had died.

“They said she was trapped inside the hokkie and was burnt out.

“I couldn’t believe it, but I recognised the clothes she had on.

“We are from the Karoo, but have been living here now for eight years.

“On Thursday, it would have been her fourth birthday.”

Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse, says firefighters responded to the blaze at 3.15pm and found strong south-westerly winds fanning the flames.

“The fire was contained at 7.30pm, and firefighting operations will still continue for a considerable time,” Carelse said.

“While clearing the debris, two bodies were discovered burnt beyond recognition.

“The scene was handed over to the SAPS.”

Residents say they got a skrik when they discovered the body of a woman in a yard.

“The body was found in my yard and the forensics said it was a woman, but we don’t know her,” says Franklin Barends.

“They took both bodies away but this morning we got a skrik when we saw they left the woman’s hand behind.

“Nobody knows how the fire started but it started on the other side and spread to us.”

On Tuesday, several volunteers could be seen handing out food and coffee to the destitute crowd as they tried to salvage what they could.

Disaster Risk Management spokesperson, Samuel Freeman, says the blaze destroyed 179 structures leaving 719 people affected.

“Informal Settlement Management is on the scene and will provide residents with starter kits to rebuild their dwellings once the Solid Waste Management Department has removed the debris. Sassa and Gift of the Givers are also on-site to provide humanitarian assistance,” Freeman says

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“While clearing the debris, two bodies were discovered burnt beyond recognition. A toddler has died in a devastating fire which ripped through the Vygieskraal informal settlement on Monday, days before her birthday. It took firefighters four hours to contain the blaze, during which one other person also lost her life, and...