Woman risks life to pull kids from flames

2008-07-02 00:00

A Pelham woman sobbed with relief yesterday after she pulled four children aged between two and eight years old out of a burning room to safety at Oribi Village. She also assisted a 93-year-old bedridden relative of theirs out of the smoke-filled home.

Miranda Olivier (39), who discovered a fire in the storeroom of the children’s home, said her first thought was for their safety.

The drama began when Olivier was visiting a friend at Oribi Village.

“I noticed smoke coming from one of the units. I knew that the children were there with an old man, Johannes Ngubane, so I rushed over. The flames were high in the air and I shouted for people to help.”

But Olivier said that no one came to her aid immediately. “I pulled the little ones out, but they kept running back into the house.”

Olivier wept as she recalled her desperate efforts to get the children to safety and the terror she felt at the time.

Eventually others in the complex came to her aid and helped her get the children and the elderly man to safety. Emergency services were also summoned. Paramedics gave the man oxygen after his blood pressure went up as a result of shock and inhaling smoke.

He was stabilised and then taken into the home of resident Marietta Roussow, who said she would care for him until his family arrived home from work.

“If I hadn’t noticed the smoke, they may all have been killed,” Olivier said as tears ran down her cheeks.

The children stood around bewildered, watching the fire engines that had rushed to the scene to extinguish the blaze.

“I love them. I give them presents at Christmas and give them fruit during the day when I visit here,” said Olivier.

The children’s grandmother, Gloria Qoo (44), was at work at the time of the incident. After being informed about it, she rushed back home and was relieved to find the children unhurt.

She said the fire was started by a candle left burning by her ex-husband, who lives in an outside building that has no electricity.

“I once warned him about leaving the candle burning, but he does not seem to have listened to me,” said Qoo. The fire did not do much damage, other than destroying all her ex-husband’s clothes, she said.

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