Newly widowed woman saves her mom and children from burning building

Dunell van Rooyen. (Photo: Supplied)
Dunell van Rooyen. (Photo: Supplied)

A Carletonville woman was forced to break a window with her bare hands to help her elderly mother and her three children flee to safety from a fire.

The day after her family’s home was hit by a devastating blaze, Dunell van Rooyen is still in shock about her close shave with death.

The fire, suspected to have been started by an electrical fault, has laid waste to their apartment and they’ve lost most of their worldly possessions.

But she’s grateful to be alive and that her loved ones – daughters Anzel (7), Coan (14) and Jeanelle (15) and her mom, Rina – have survived the incident.

“We’re well, thank you. The Lord spared us,” she says when asked how the family are coping.

On Wednesday 11 December Dunell woke at 5am when her mom, Rina, started coughing from the smoke.

“I jumped out of bed and saw a sight I’d never thought I’d see – the house in flames, clouds of black smoke in every room, flames licking at the ceiling. My only thought was, ‘You must get everyone to safety’,” she tells us.

Dunell tried getting to the front door but couldn’t because of the flames. Coughing and spluttering in the smoke, she says it was as if a voice told her, “Break the window.”

“I’m convinced it was God’s voice. I was confused and panicking. And scared, of course. You know so much can go wrong, and that you could die.

“We got the kids together and helped them through the window one by one. We climbed through ourselves and waited on the roof of the shop next-door for help to arrive.

“Everyone’s safe and unharmed. Apart from everything in our apartment going up in flames.”

Dunell’s sister, Marise Kruger, says God was protecting the family. Everything was destroyed in the fire, except the beds where Dunell, her daughters and Rina had been sleeping.

“Afterwards, walking through the apartment, all the rooms were covered in soot – everything except each one’s bed. The flames had surrounded them but the beds were untouched. It’s incredible how God protected them,” Marise said.

Almost none of their possessions could be saved. The family were all treated for smoke inhalation and Dunell suffered minor cuts to her hands from breaking the window.

Dunell van Rooyen and her kids

This is the second tragedy this year to befall the family. Dunell’s husband, Danie (42), died nine months ago. He’d suffered four heart attacks – one while working on site as a builder, and another three in hospital.

“It’s heartbreaking. I’m only 30 years old. But we’re keeping our chins up and staying hopeful. We know the Lord will show us the way,” Dunell said.

The cause of the blaze hasn’t been established but it’s suspected that a power surge may have caused electrical wiring to catch fire. An investigation is under way.

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