Heater causes fire after outage

2008-04-18 00:00

AN Oribi Village resident in Pietermaritzburg has learnt a hard lesson after a bar heater, which she inadvertently left on during load shedding, set her bed on fire when the power came back on.

Daphne Brown (44) was returning to her four-room house from the shops when she was greeted by thick smoke. “In the morning I switched on the heater to warm myself.

At about 9 am, the power went off. As I started cleaning, I placed the heater on the bed and then put some clothes on top of it. After I finished cleaning, I left for the shop where I also had a chat with some friends.

“Later, as I was walking down the road, I saw smoke coming from my house. I thought a stove, which was also left on, was the cause of the smoke. When I entered the house the smoke was thick and I couldn’t see where it was coming from at first and then discovered there was a fire in my bedroom,” said Brown.

Neighbours and friends rushed to Brown’s house to help her extinguish the flames. Their battle, fought with buckets and a garden hosepipe, proved to be unsuccessful.

Later, a Msunduzi Municipality fire engine arrived and the fire was put out. Fire department division officer Nathi Mchunu said that Brown’s saga is a lesson to the public to disconnect electrical appliances during load shedding.

“People must disconnect everything in the house during the load shedding. Whether it is a fridge or TV, everything must be off because otherwise they can be dangerous when power returns,” said Mchunu.

Mchunu said 90% of Brown’s house suffered smoke damage and 40% water damage. Her bed and the clothes on the bed were completely burnt.

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