Adorina Groenewald, 63, thought she was going to die when a fire engulfed her home in Elsieskraal Road, Manenberg, on Wednesday November 8.
The fire badly damaged two houses and destroyed five shacks, leaving 18 people homeless, according to City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse.
More than 20 firefighters from Gugulethu, Ottery, Mitchell’s Plain and Epping battled the blaze for over an hours before it was extinguished.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire had yet to be determined, he said.
Ms Groenewald said she had been trapped in her burning wendy house, but neighbours had come to her rescue.
“I could not see. The fire was at the door and down the passage. I could not leave my home. I saw death coming for me. Thanks to my neighbours – one of them has a long ladder. Another two men helped me to climb on the ladder, so that I could get over the fence to get to the canal side. They also had to make a hole in the roof to help get me out.”
Her daughter, Lizette Groenewald, who lives on the same property in another wendy house, lost everything.
“I was sleeping. By the time I heard the commotion, there was thick smoke in my wendy house, and I couldn’t see. All I could do was crawl out. I had to feel along my furniture to make my way outside. I share the wendy with my two children. We have been living here for more than 10 years. We lost everything. Our furniture, clothes, identity documents. Everything.”
Samantha Tulp and her family of five were also left homeless.
“I just have the clothes on my back. It’s not safe for us to be in the house, as the walls are loose and it can collapse anytime,” she said.
Mark and Grizelle Fortuin also lost everything. Their daughters, Cleo, 19, and Cara, 15, now have to live with friends and family.
“This was something so unreal. We underestimated the power of fire. We tried to extinguish the flames, but we just couldn’t. Everything we worked for is gone. At least no-one got hurt,” Mr Fortuin said.
“Our eldest daughter is a second-year University of Cape Town student, and her laptop was also destroyed. Our youngest is on specialised medication after it was discovered that she had a tumour on her brain. Her medication was also destroyed, and it is a process to get it replaced. All our important documents have also been destroyed.”
Magadien Wentzel, who lives in a nearby wendy house that survived the fire unscathed, is trying to get assistance for the fire victims, who have been sleeping outside and have to find a way to rebuild their homes.
If you can assist, call him at 073 885 2284.