Thursday, 6 November 2014

Shack fire, Denver

A fire rages through an informal settlement in Denver, Johannesburg, South Africa, 6 November 2014. The fire destroyed a large part of the settlement, but had the wind not been blowing in the direction it was, the damage would have been dramatically worse.
I seen smoke on the horizon and rode my motorcycle towards it. It's not the first (nor the last) time that I've done that. More often than not it's garbage or some random stuff on fire.

This time I came up to this shack fire just starting off. People were rushing to move their belongings from their corrugated-iron and wood shacks. Some seemed to have given up and just sat there watching the fire consume their homes. As always, I moved around trying to get some pictures of the destruction.

With your eye on the camera, you are separated from the reality of what's going on, you are simply trying to get a decent frame. The pictures can't show the heat, but I could feel my face burning and embers flew all over me as the wind picked up.

At one point, a man accosted me for being there taking photos. He stopped dismantling his shack and came running towards me with his hammer screaming that I must leave. I walked away.

I can understand his feeling of anger. I definitely stick out at these scenes, for many more reasons than the fact I'm holding a camera. He must be frustrated and angered by knowing that he is about to lose everything of the very little he has and I am an easy target for his anger.

So very unlike me, I moved away. I already had my pictures.