Devastated by fire

The room the fire started in.

A Beacon Valley family narrowly escaped death when the top floor of their home was engulfed in flames on Wednesday March 6.

Rochelle Fredericks, 41, said when she tried putting out the fire, she sustained burns on her hands and legs in the process.

“I was lying with my son, 3, and something told me to wake up. When I awoke there was a little flame on the floor. When I opened the door for more air, the flames filled the room. I told my son to go down and get out of the house, the house was filled with smoke. I called for my sister to help me. I inhaled too much smoke, the ambulance came in time to save me.”

Her sister, who does not want to be named, said she also awoke to a smoky smell coming from Rochelle’s room. “It smelled like electricity, like wires burning. Rochelle was putting out the flames upstairs.”

The neighbour next door to the family, Faeeza Koopman, was lying in bed when she heard her neighbour screaming her name. 

“My daughter, Tasneem Koopman, and I came outside to see what the commotion was and saw black smoke and flames next door. My house was filled with smoke too. I was shocked. The ambulance and fire rescue came in time.”

In two of Ms Koopman’s rooms on the top floor, the walls had cracks in them and the paint on the roof has cracked. It needs to be fixed, she said.

The next day, Thursday March 7, the smell of smoke was still strong.

Ms Fredericks’ husband Christopher Fredericks, 45, was not home at the time. 

“I was at work in Khayelitsha and had to make my way home. When I came home everything was gone. We have no place to stay, we lost everything. Our family is dispersed at the moment and not sleeping at home. We need a place to stay now.”

The top floor of the maisonette was destroyed with the fire burning holes in the roof and causing damage to the two bedrooms and toilet.

Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the City of Cape Town’s fire and rescue services, said the cause of the fire had not yet been confirmed. Mr Carelse said two women sustained burn wounds and were taking to hospital by Metro ambulance.

If you would like to help the family, call 071 945 9726 for more information.