Around the world – in Manila, Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, Cape Town – there are slums.  These “informal towns” are densely populated areas, where building regulations are unheard of. Structures are built with readily-combustible materials; whatever’s available and strong enough to bear weight will likely make its way into a building. Cooking and heating are achieved with open flames or gas burners, and electricity is commonly routed through a jumble of exposed wires. Slum fires are regular occurrences; deadly and relentless.

In the developed world, things are better – although not by that much. So, is fire an inevitability of poverty, or just as likely in wealthier areas?

Shanty Town shacks