Family left distraught after blaze sparked by ‘faulty electricity pole’

2017-04-18 13:38
ABOVE: Sebastian Govender, who also resides at the home, inside the sitting room area, which was destroyed.

ABOVE: Sebastian Govender, who also resides at the home, inside the sitting room area, which was destroyed. (Nompilo Kunene)

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A Northdale family of seven were left distressed after their home was badly damaged in a fire they alleged was sparked by a faulty electricity pole.

Farzana Sheik, who resides in the house with her elderly parents and three other relatives, said there was no one at home when the fire broke out on Sunday morning.

“My parents and the two young children are in Johannesburg visiting relatives and the rest of us were in Durban,” she said.

The family were alerted to the fire by a neighbour.

One of the neighbours, Renu Shrikumar, said she was at home when she heard people shouting and screaming.

“When I ran out of my house I saw the neighbours’ house blazing.

“I immediately ran to help. I broke the window and poured water onto the two burning couches.

“When the fire was out I broke the burglar gate and went into the house and opened the doors and windows so the smoke could get out,” said Shrikumar.

Shrikumar said the fire fighters arrived a few minutes later when the fire was already out and refused to hose the house down and left.

Shrikumar said about 30 minutes later the fire started again and this time the flames were “bigger and higher”.

She said more neighbours assisted to extinguish the fire again.

“The fire brigade again arrived when the fire was out and again refused to hose the house, insisting that it was all over,” she said.

Shrikumar said her 12-year-old daughter was taking a shower when another spark was seen at the electricity pole and she was shocked by the shower head.

She said her daughter was taken to Northdale hospital.

“She is better now but she’s still a little scared and doesn’t want to come back home so she is at a relative’s house,” said Shrikumar.

The entire sitting room was badly damaged as well as the ceiling throughout the whole house. The walls and wardrobes in the two bedrooms were damaged by smoke residue and the bathroom was flooded with water.

Sheik said she was heartbroken by the fire.

“My parents have owned this house for 43 years now. I was born here and this is the only home I know,” she said.

She said her parents were panicking and said they were on their way home when she called and told them.

“My parents will be shattered. They have worked so hard to build this home and I highly doubt they can ever rebuild it at their age,” said Sheik as she broke down in tears.

She said her neighbours and the nearby mosque have been very supportive throughout the ordeal.

“They helped extinguish the fire and have been offering us warm meals,” she said.

Sheik said they were also visited by the local councillor and Disaster Management officials who gave them a tent, canned food, blankets, mattresses and candles.

“I don’t know if we can afford to rebuild our home, my parents are pensioners, I am currently job hunting and we were still paying the house bond,” said Sheik.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said they sent Disaster Management staff to help.

“Proper investigations about how the fire started are under way and thereafter we will decide if there would be any further interventions from the municipality,” said Mafumbatha.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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