‘I could smell the smoke’

2009-10-06 00:00

A DOMESTIC worker saved her employer’s son from a blaze that gutted a family house in Prestbury yesterday.

The fire broke out at 31 Bellevue Road just moments after Theresa Watkins and her daughter left for work and school yesterday morning.

“We left home at about 7.30 am and were phoned by neighbours who told us the house was on fire. When we were a distance away I saw this huge pall of smoke and I could not believe it was my house.” When she arrived back , there were cars and people on the street near the burning house.

Watkins’s son, Jared (19), was asleep upstairs while employee Dorah Radebe was cleaning the kitchen.

She said, “I heard a loud knock and I thought someone was at the door, but when I checked there was no one there. A minute later I heard a loud bang and then I could smell smoke, and I realised the house was on fire. I ran upstairs and banged on the door in the bedroom where Jared was sleeping.”

Jared woke up to the billowing smoke that had begun to fill the house. “She was screaming for me to wake up and I could smell the smoke when I jumped up.” He got the shock of his life when he realised the house was on fire. “I felt numb; my whole body just went numb. I told her to get out of the house while I tried to get my wallet.” Jared managed to save his wallet. All his clothes were burnt to ashes, and he was left just with what he was wearing.

Radebe was gasping for air when she reached the lawn where she sat down and wept with shock as she watched the fire. “I was terrified. It was a close call. I cried because I was so scared.”

Theresa Watkins said the entire top floor was damaged by the fire and furniture on the ground floor was damaged by the fire and water from the fire hoses.

“Three bedrooms, a TV room and bathroom were completely damaged. I also lost the kids’ photos and the antique furniture that I inherited from my grandmother. Those were my most prized possessions, they are irreplaceable”.

The Msunduzi Fire Department responded swiftly and managed to douse the flames before they gutted the whole house. “The firefighters were very quick and they did an impressive job,” said Watkins.

The fire department is still investigating the cause of the fire. It is believed it may have been caused by an electrical fault in the geyser.

The Watkins family built the house in 1986. They are now temporarily homeless. Watkins said the house was valued at more than R900 000. Yesterday afternoon they were still calculating the damages.

“We are lucky to have my mother next door. We will be staying at her house while we rebuild our house.”

Local resident Colin Meier took photos of the fire and circulated them on Facebook yesterday morning.

Photo: Colin Meier

Msunduzi Municipality firefighters responded swiftly and managed to control the fire.


Photo: Colin Meier

The fire blazes through the roof.

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