Son severely burnt as caravan goes up in flames in minutes

2011-07-05 00:00

A FAMILY on holiday from Pretoria escaped with their lives when their caravan burnt to the ground in minutes in a horrific fire at the Margate caravan park last week.

A Margate police spokesperson said an electrical fault caused the caravan tent and then the caravan to catch alight at 3 am on Thursday.

A 10-year-old boy was severely burnt.

Said Captain Gerald Mfeka on behalf of the Margate police, “His arms, legs and face were burnt in the fire. He was taken to Margate Hospital for treatment and then to St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban.”

A case has not been opened since the family is not from KwaZulu-Natal.

Jonny Els, a holidaymaker from a neighbouring caravan, told The Witness about the frightening scene he witnessed that night.

“I woke up to screams and was up and out of my caravan in about half a minute.

“ It was absolutely terrifying to see, because the big tent adjoining the caravan was gone in a matter of minutes before the caravan started burning.”

Els said the Pretoria family — parents André and Karen Huskisson, Pierre (14) and Bjorn (10), who was burnt — had come on a holiday after saving for a couple of years to buy the caravan.

They had intended spending their dream holiday here until July 15, he said.

“What we think happened is that the boys had their own little tents inside the main tent and the fire was caused by an electrical fault, which we suspect may have been an electric blanket, but once that tent fabric started burning it went like wildfire,” said Els.

“Fortunately the father had just been up to the toilet and was not sleeping, so the minute the fire started he was awake.

“The parents tore open the boys’ tents and got them out of there and within 20 minutes there was no caravan left. We just watched it burn down while calling an ambulance and the fire department.”

The tail light of Els’s own caravan was melting from the heat, because it was about five metres away from the blaze.

Els said he ran long distances with buckets of water because the heat was too intense at the nearest tap.

He and others moved the Huskisson’s car, where the father had left his wallet, before it went up in flames.

“What an awful thing for the family, the shock of it all,” said Els.

“I spoke to the family on Monday and Bjorn is in intensive care at St Augustine’s hospital in Durban with 22% burns on his body, which is not too bad.

“But they are keeping him there because of the risk of infection. The family are staying with friends from their church.

“The mother also has burnt hands from the tent fabric and pulling the boys out.

“I also went to the doctor today for blisters on my face.

The heat was unbelievable — especially when the gas bottle exploded, but it could have been worse.

“It’s not something you ever want to see,” said Els.

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