Bonteheuwel shop owner dies in fire

One man died and seven others displaced when a fire broke out at this house in Bonteheuwel.

Police are investigating a Bonteheuwel man’s death after the spaza shop he owned and lived in caught fire last Thursday.

The 35-year-old Somali shopkeeper died in his home on Thursday October 1, at around 5am. He also ran the shop from his home.

The fire caused damage to the main house and displaced seven people.

A neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said she had called the fire brigade at about 5am after smelling smoke and seeing flames.

There had been three or four other fires at the home in the past, she said.

“I don’t react well to smoke so I stood under the shower, and that helped my chest. By the time I got out about 10 minutes later, the fire brigade was there.”

Bishop Lavis police spokesman Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said police were investigating.

City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Edward Bosch said firefighters had taken 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze. The cause of the fire was unknown.

“Firefighters found two wood-and-iron structures on the property, in front of the main house – one of the structures, used as a living quarters, was gutted in the fire and there was slight smoke damage to the main dwelling.”

It’s the fourth fire to hit Bonteheuwel this year, according to ward councillor Angus McKenzie.

“House fires are extremely traumatising, and those affected suffer huge loss, but more so when an individual is burnt to death fighting to free himself from the fire. My deepest condolences and sympathy go to the family and friends of this individual.

“Keeping warm is critical during these cold winter nights and while the cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, residents are requested to follow the safest possible practices when lighting fires, candles and any other heating device.”