Arson suspected in Northdale blaze

2008-11-21 00:00

THE Msunduzi fire department suspects that arson was behind the fire that gutted a Northdale, Pietermaritzburg, home yesterday afternoon.

Station officer Cedric Carls said it appears that fires were started in four different parts of the house, while an accidental fire gradually spread to other rooms.

“There was no path or pattern that shows the flow of fire spreading and for that reason we suspect arson … we will involve the SAPS who will also do their own investigations since arson is in question,” he said.

When Weekend Witness visited the area, Taurus Road was thronged with concerned neighbours.

Swami Reddy, a neighbour, said he saw smoke coming from the house while washing his car at about 2.30 pm yesterday.

He called for his wife to contact the fire brigade while he rushed to see if anyone was trapped inside the house.

He said he broke a window, planning to use a hose to fight the flames, but the hosepipe would not fit on the tap. He used buckets of water instead and extinguished a fire in one of the rooms. By that time, the fire brigade were working on the rest of the house.

The bedrooms were the worst affected. A shocked Nisha Muniraj, the house owner, said the house was insured as she was still paying the bond, but her furniture and all the other contents were not.

Another neighbour, Savie Lautchman, said Muniraj is self-employed and sells goods every afternoon with her younger daughter. Muniraj’s 17-year-old daughter, who often takes a nap after school, was also out, having just recently got a casual job at a shopping mall, he added.

“It is a miracle that today of all days she started on the new job. Her mother is a hard-working woman who struggles to get by … But we thank God that their lives were saved. It could have happened while they were sleeping.”

A source said a bottle of paraffin was found among the debris, and a key was found hanging in the back door. The owner has the original key, he added.

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