Rubble trouble after fire

2015-05-26 06:00
Burnt beams, furniture and personal belongings lie in a pile – the only remnants of what was once the Heideman family home in Moses Kottler Street in New Woodlands. Work to rebuild the wendy house is set to be completed in a month’s time. 


Burnt beams, furniture and personal belongings lie in a pile – the only remnants of what was once the Heideman family home in Moses Kottler Street in New Woodlands. Work to rebuild the wendy house is set to be completed in a month’s time. PHOTO:

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A New Woodlands family is starting to rebuild their life following a blaze that claimed all of their belongings.

A fire broke out in their wendy house in Moses Kottler Street on Wednesday 13 May. Sylvan Heideman and his two-year-old son were at home when the fire started between noon and 13:00.

“I was in the bedroom and my son was watching TV in the living room section. When the fire started he alerted me to it,” Heideman says.

He explains that the fire started in the living room where the boy was sitting but the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

The blaze quickly spread through the home and as Heideman tried to escape, a flame scorched his face.

He sustained burns to his nose and ear. The two-year-old escaped unscathed.

However, the fire claimed all the belongings of the family of five. It also damaged the main house and a neighbour’s gutters.

“The fire took everything, The roof and the content are all gone,” he says. The structure was half concrete and half wood with an asbestos roof.

Now, in front of the home lies a huge pile of burnt rubble – remnants of what the family has lost. This has posed a different kind of problem.

Johanna Patientia, Heideman’s mother-in-law, says the rubble was meant to be removed the day after the fire. But a week later the pile was still there.

Subforum chairperson Basil Coetzee visited the scene of the fire and says the rubble started to attract unsavoury characters.

“There are scrap collectors scratching in the pile and leaving a mess behind. Also, there are now complaints that cars can’t pass and that the pile is unsightly,” Coetzee says.

Patientia says a child was also injured.

“The children are playing with the rubble and one child stepped in a nail and got hurt,” she says.

It is also a health hazard with the soot and burnt asbestos. She says that the emergency officials told them to put the rubble outside, but then mere days later they were threatened with a fine following several complaints.

Steps have since been taken to clear out the rubble as building work started last week. The City of Cape Town has also supplied the family with a starter pack. The family is also receiving counselling at the local victims’ support unit.

Heideman says that all emergency response teams were quick to respond to the call. Heideman is grateful to people from New Woodlands and the surrounding areas who helped. “Because of the assistance the other houses were not affected,” he says. “We also got many donations from all over Mitchell’s Plain. I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone for the donations, help and the support.”

Coetzee says it is with the help of social media that so many opened their hearts.

The rebuilding will take about a month and the family has moved into the main house for the time being.

Coetzee urges residents to attend community events. “At a recent event, the fire department held a demonstration with tips on what to do when there is a fire. Especially now with all the loadshedding, it may just save a life,” he says.


If you would like to help the Heideman family in any way call Basil Coetzee on 073 886 3678

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