Family loses everything in house fire

The damaged prepaid meter box inside the main house.

A Bokmakieriefamilyof three lost everything they own when their shack was destroyed by a fire which started after their television short-circuited last week.

The fire started behind the TV in the early hours of Thursday morning while the family were asleep.

This was confirmed by the City’s fire and rescue services spokeswoman, Liezl Moodie.

Renaldo Thomas, 31, said he woke up after 2am to drink a glass of water and poured a glass for his wife, Nicole Wagner, as well.

He went back to sleep and woke up an hour later to a burning smell. He said he quickly woke up Ms Wagner and their child and took his family out of the house.

No one was injured in the fire.

“We asked the people at the back to give us hose pipes because our hosepipe was inside the house and I didn’t manage to get to it. The other people also came and helped us to put out the fire,” said Mr Thomas.

While the community assisted the family to contain the fire, residents called the fire brigade which, they claim, came an hour later.

After the fire was extinguished, a second one started after 5am.

Residents again called the fire brigade and managed to contain the fire.

One of the neighbours, Jemima Africa, 61, said she explained to the firefighters where the fire had started again.

“I saw smoke coming from down the road and when I ran this way, I saw it coming from on top of the house. That was the second fire. I shouted to the neighbour to bring the hosepipe this side and keep it towards the roof where the second fire started. So we phoned the fire brigade again and the same people came.

“The police first came and asked if they should send the fire brigade again and I said yes they must come and do their work properly.

“When they came I showed them where it started burning again and told them the people put the hosepipe there to put it out. I said they should go into the roof and see what the problem is and they took longer to put it out the second time around,” said Ms Africa.

The shack that Mr Thomas and his family lived in had been built up against the side of the main house, with a lead running through the roof, feeding electricity from the main house to the shack. The outside wall of the main house which the shack was built against, was badly burnt in the fire.

Ms Wagner said that their clothes, cupboard, microwave and television all burnt in the fire. She said that at night they put the room light off and leave the TV on so that there can be light in the room.

Melvin Lawrence, owner of the main house said he had driven around all day taking care of paperwork so that the fire department could send out an inspector to the house to see where the fire had started and declare whether it was safe to move into the main house again.

“They called me at about 3.30am this morning. So far today I’ve been to the police station to get an affidavit and then to the fire department to get an incident report and they referred me to the council to fill in a form so that the report can be released to me because the house is still on mom’s name. I got papers from them and went back to the fire department. I then went to the electricity department in Vanguard so that they can send out an inspector to make sure the front of the house is safe to move into again,” said Mr Lawrence.

On Saturday the City of Cape Town’s disaster management unit brought a starter kit to the family to rebuild a temporary shack. Among the items were wood, sink sheets, and nails.

Bokmakierie ward councillor Rashid Adams said he saw a post about the fire on Facebook and immediately contacted the fire department for the family’s address. “I went to the family and discovered that the entire shack had burnt down. I promised I would report it to disaster risk management and the family was given a starter kit to rebuild their shack,” said Mr Adams. The family was also visited by representatives of the Mustadafin Foundation, who gave them a donation of clothing and food.

Anyone who would like to assist the family can call Rashid Adams on 072 173 1180.