Orphanage inferno: House mother and children who died

2010-02-11 00:00

TWO baby boys, one aged just two days and the other two months old, were literally thrown out of the window to save them from the inferno that destroyed their orphanage at Ingogo, near Newcastle, on Tuesday morning.

The fire, which was reported to have started in the lounge of the Hope in Christ orphanage at about 6 am, killed Sara Holland, who ran the home, her son, Nick Pienaar, his three children, another adult and five other children.

Holland was incorrectly identified as Sara Allen in yesterday’s Witness.

Yesterday afternoon police fire investigators from Pretoria could not establish the cause of the fire.

KZN police spokeswoman Director Phindile Radebe said the investigators started work at 7 am.

“At this stage the cause has not been established and the investigators will comb the ruins for every tiny hint that could lead to the breakthrough,” said Radebe.

She could not confirm reports that there was only one fire extinguisher in the house.

After visiting the home’s ruins yesterday morning, Social Development and Health MECs Meshack Radebe and Sibongiseni Dhlomo, accompanied by a number of MPLs, visited the Newcastle provincial hospital where all the survivors are recovering.

There they had a brief meeting with the Holland family, and the officials promised every possible support for the family should the need arise.

Hospital spokesman Sabelo Buthelezi said the families of the other victims were not at the meeting.

“At this stage these victims are not known and the matter has been han­ded over to the social workers to find what they can about their identities and next of kin,” said Buthelezi.

All the survivors are to remain at the hospital until crisis centres are identified for them to be taken to.

Radebe said the incident is a tragedy for the Ingogo community.

“What makes the situation more painful is the difficulty in identifying the cause of the fire.

“Our trauma officers are dealing with all the parties involved in the tragedy.

“We are also working on finding safe places for the survivors, especially the two tiny boys who miraculously survived after being thrown out of the window,” Radebe said.

The Holland family wish to bury their loved ones tomorrow, provided that their bodies are identified positively.

Radebe said his department will provide financial and emotional support to the family and is working to identify the families or relatives of the remaining victims.

He said some government officials, himself included, will attend the funeral.

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