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WATCH: Quick-thinking couple saves sleeping man in burning Durban beachfront building

05 October, 05:45 PM

A man was saved at the Durban beachfront on Friday morning, thanks to some quick thinking.

Jayne Gilham-Law and her husband Mike were out in the ocean at Addington Beach, stand-up paddle boarding just after 08:00, when they noticed smoke billowing from a building on the beachfront.  

"My husband Mike saw the fire first and he thought that someone must have been aware of it, with all the billowing smoke," Gilham-Law told News24.

"I wasn't convinced, as I didn't hear any emergency vehicles, and thought rather safe than sorry. So I phoned Xpression on the Beach." 

She carries her phone in a waterproof cover, to share her paddle boarding experiences with friends and family, and managed to capture footage of the fire. 

Brandon Read, owner of Xpression on the Beach, which hires paddle boards and surfboards, told News24 that he received a call from Gilham-Law notifying him of the fire at the Groote Schuur building on Erskine Terrace.

"I was still on the beach, helping people get on the water. She phoned me knowing I was there, and said this building is on fire."

Read began making calls to people he knows in the building, but when he couldn't reach anyone, he called their shop which is situated close to the Groote Schuur building.

One of their employees eventually managed to flag someone down who lives in the building.

"She [the tenant] was literally down here on the promenade running her surf school. She didn't know about the fire," Read said.

"So she went over there and it actually turned out to be her granddaughter's apartment. She was very grateful that we had told her, because there was somebody in there sleeping who didn’t know about the fire."

The balcony area of the apartment in question was completely black he said.

It is unclear what caused the fire.

"I honestly thought that someone would know about it already, and that it was just a waste of time, but I was going to call anyway."

"It could have been a lot worse," Read said.

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