Fire services two hours too late

2017-09-07 14:06
The Mkhize house after it was gutted by a fire in Edendale.

The Mkhize house after it was gutted by a fire in Edendale. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Two desperate families whose properties were gutted by fires on Tuesday had to wait two hours for fire services to respond.

In the first incident, fire services reportedly arrived only two hours after being alerted to a blaze at a home in Merrivale, Howick.

uMgungundlovu district municipality spokesperson Mbali Ndlovu confirmed that the incident was reported to the emergency call centre.

“There was raging veld fire in Mooi River and the district commander decided the Howick fire station needed to assist. When the fire broke out at Merrivale, the Howick crew was still in Mooi River putting out the veld fire.”

She said the district commander dispatched another two fire trucks to the scene, one from Ashburton and the other from Impendle.

“Unfortunately the Ashburton fire engine was unable to get through as there was traffic congestion due to the [Michaelhouse] bus accident on the N3. The freeway was closed for over 45 minutes. The Impendle fire truck arrived at the scene to put out the fire.”

Ndlovu said a person at the house had suffered minor burns to the hand and was treated on site.

The main building where the owners reside was not damaged, but a workshop where they manufacture doors had burnt down.

A bakkie and caravan were also damaged.

The Mkhize family from Edendale suffered a similar fate when they had to wait two hours for Msunduzi firefighters to respond to their emergency on Tuesday. The family narrowly escaped from the flames that gutted their home and belongings. The blaze is believed to have been started by the family’s five-year-old grandchild, who had been playing with matches.

Lungile Mkhize said they called the Msunduzi municipality fire services numerous times.

“We waited more than two hours for them to arrive. We were hoping that they would arrive sooner to stop the fire from spreading to the entire house.”

By the time fire services arrived it was already too late, the house was completely gutted. Mkhize said she was in the sitting room watching TV when the blaze started at 10.54 am.

“I was alerted to the fire when smoke and flames engulfed the house. When I went to investigate, I noticed that there was thick smoke coming from my little brother’s room.”

She said the room was already filled with thick black smoke and her brother was trying to put out the fire.

“I ran inside the room and pulled him out before the fire spread. I then screamed out to my grandmother who was in another room. We tried everything we could to stop the fire from spreading to other rooms but it was already too late.”

No one was hurt, but the seven-bedroom house was gutted. The family’s clothes, bedding and furniture went up in flames. “We are only left with the clothes we were wearing on day. Everything else was destroyed. No one here is working. We are all dependent on my grandmother’s grant money, which she won’t be receiving this month because all her documents were also destroyed in the fire.”

Mkhize said her 64-year-old grandmother’s chronic medication was also destroyed. The family of six are currently staying in a one-room outbuilding that was not affected by the fire.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  house fire

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