‘I almost lost my life’

2014-08-27 00:00

NORTHDALE fireman who was trapped by a large fire in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has spoken out about his terrifying ordeal.

Yoogen Naicker had tried to drench the fire using a portable extinguisher as an initial attempt while waiting for back-up to arrive. But, he was unsuccessful as the blaze proved to be too much for the extinguisher to quell.

He then tried to run out of the room, but it was engulfed with smoke and flames. Because of the intense heat and poor visibility, he was unable to call for help.

“I screamed out for assistance but didn’t get responses from my fellow members. I almost lost my life,” Naicker said.

“I tried walking in different directions to find an exit but I could feel I was getting closer to the fire. I could hear the floors collapsing and walked around one room hitting the walls with my hand and torch.”

The father of three said he used his 14 years of experience to look for windows although his body was exposed to “extreme” heat. He said he removed his breathing apparatus when his cylinder was empty after 35 to 45 minutes. “I thought I had been left for dead as there was no sign of any fellow fireman around. I eventually broke a window and hung my almost lifeless body out and moved my hands hoping someone would see me but still there was no help.”

Naicker jumped to safety through the window. He said ER24 rushed him to St Anne’s Hospital.

“Not a single supervisor or manager was at the hospital to see if I was okay.”

The fire department’s Lincoln Pennells said Naicker was not injured but inhaled smoke and was taken to hospital for a check-up.

Meanwhile, IFP caucus leader Blessed Gwala revealed that the investigation into what caused the fire last Thursday has not yet begun.

“The independent investigator has not started the investigation yet and this makes it difficult for the IFP staff to work as some offices were damaged. I have written to the Speaker to expedite this.”

Legislature spokesperson Wonder Hlongwa said the matter was reported to the police.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane said, “The case is still under investigation and no arrests have been made.”

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.co.za

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