Shack fire kills 5 children in Orange Farm

Johannesburg - Five children died in a shack fire in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, in the early hours of Monday, emergency services said.

The three boys and two girls, between the ages of 4 and 17, seemed to have died from smoke inhalation, according to spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi.

All the children were confirmed dead on the scene.

Mulaudzi told News24 that there were no adults present at the time and police were trying to establish whether the children lived alone, with the 17-year-old performing the ''adult'' duties, or whether their parents were away.

Mulaudzi said no other shacks were damaged in the fire, because in that section of Orange Farm extension 2, the shacks are spaced further apart than at most settlements.

He reiterated previous pleas to people, especially the most vulnerable who live in one of the over 180 shacks settlements around the city, to be very careful with their heating and lighting such as candles and paraffin stoves, and to not leave them unattended.

People who use braziers should remember to use them in well-ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide inhalation, Mulaudzi said.

Last year, the social development ministry called for information on households being run by children so that the government could provide support where necessary.

The department already has a programme called ''Isibindi'' which targets households where children are looking after themselves. For the financial year 2013/14 the programme was already assisting 90 000 children.