A mysterious fire that broke out in the early hours of Sunday 1 September left three Manenberg families seriously affected.
Two of the families lost almost all of their belongings, one also suffered physical injuries and all three were seriously traumatised.
The fire reportedly started in a shack erected at the back of a house. It spread to another shack and destroyed an adjacent flat’s kitchen and bathroom.
Fazlin Odendaal, a family member of one of the affected families, recounts the incident that morning.
Odendaal says they were sitting in the lounge of the house, watching television and chatting while her brother-in -law’s children were sleeping in the shack.
She says they did not smell anything until one of the children, a three-year-old boy, ran from the shack, shouting there was fire.
“Had it not been for him, people would have died. He came running, saying, ‘Daddy, daddy, my sister is burning,’ ” she recalls.
Two children, both younger than five, have burn wounds on their hands and faces and their father (32) still has a bandage around his head.
The father, who did not want to be named, rushed to the shack to rescue his children and that is how he got burnt. He is still distraught and refuses to speak. He says he is not ready to speculate on what could have happened that morning.
Odendaal says they do not know how they will rebuild the shack as none of them has jobs. “I do not even have a phone. I lost it in the fire. We lost everything. Even the electricity was affected,” says Odendaal.
The City of Cape Town’s fire services doused the fire.
Lecia Hartzenberg, whose flat is linked to the shack that burnt, says she lost all of her electric appliances. She thanks God that she is still alive.
Also grateful to be alive are Aneeqah Fisher and Shakiena Davids. They live in the second shack that burnt.
Fisher says the fire was very traumatic as she was trapped inside their shack with her one-year-old baby.
She does not know what would have happened, had the firefighters not arrived. They had to hand the baby through the shack’s window.
“I thank the firefighters. They came to assist us and we were also able to assist our neighbours,” Fisher says.
Fisher and Davids were able to rebuild their shack, but say it has not been easy.
The family from the main house is still unsure as to what could have started the fire. They say their electricity cables were intact and they were not cooking as it was in the early hours of the morning.
They appeal to anyone who would like to help. The fire has left them in dire straits with more than 10 people squashed into the house.