When Roseline Gordon’s Dahlia Street home in Lentegeur went up in flames last week, all she could salvage was her bag as she watched helplessly while her house, which was not insured, burned.
The fire on Tuesday July 31, started at the back of the house next to a wendy house in the backyard and has displaced the family of 13 – Ms Gordon, 52, her husband, 64, her middle daughter, 24, and her children aged four, five and seven, her youngest daughter, 14, her brother-in-law 54, her eldest daughter, 35, and her husband, 30, who lived in the wendy house with their children aged 16, 10 and five.
Ms Gordon’s neighbours’ houses on either side were also damaged caused by the fire.
City Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, told the Daily Voice that firefighters received a call at 5.36pm for help.
He said the fire was extinguished by 7.27pm and a formal dwelling and a backyard dwelling were destroyed. There were no injuries and no fatalities.
“According to the report, children were playing with matches and there was a gas tank on the property. A total of 13 people have been displaced.”
Ms Gordon said she was in the kitchen when she smelled something and realised something was wrong. Her granddaughter rushed to her to tell her that the house is burning at the back.
“I tried killing the fire but the flames were so big and so fast that I grabbed my bag, the only thing I could save, and watched as my house burned,” she said.
Her neighbour whose tool shed was affected by the fire, Joseph Steenkamp, 70, said: “It was around 4pm or 5pm; I was sleeping and my wife was cooking. I heard a loud bang and went to see what it was about. My tool shed was on fire, we tried to kill it (the fire) but it was too late.”
The fire burned a hole in Mr Steenkamp’s garage roof.
Neighbour Nicholas Schwartz’s, 54, said the fire spread to his back room. The next day, after it started raining, the roof caved in, causing a wet mess inside the house.
Mr Schwartz said. “I was at home with my father and grandson at the time and smelled the smoke. I went to the backyard and we then evacuated the house. My grandson is still traumatised by the gas tank that went off with a big bang. People should be more aware and alert for a fire breakout so that they can take precautions,” he said.
Ms Gordon’s neighbour, Ebrahim Hercules, 52, who is head of security at Winners in Lentegeur, helped her with food and retrieving some of the things that could be salvaged from the fire.
“This is a disaster; you can’t point fingers now. Our main priority is to see that my neighbour is okay and that she has everything she needs for now.”
A friend of Ms Gordon, Edwina Jacobs, said: “I was here when it all happened and I saw how someone can lose everything in a split second. It is very sad. We are doing our best to do what we can to help.”
Another neighbour NawaaL Swanepoel, 38, said it is the first time something like this has happened in their road.
“It is a real loss and we will help as much as we can.”
Ms Gordon and her family have been living with Ms Swanepoel since the fire.
Ward councillor of Ward 76 (Lentegeur) Goawa Timm said: “Things like this happen, which makes it important for people to take out insurance on their homes to secure it if a natural accident happens. I urge all to do this as soon as possible, so that there is no hassle when things like this happen.”
Ms Gordon and her family received two wendy houses on Sunday August 5 from the City of Cape and Imvuso Trading in Lansdowne.
The family moved into their wendy houses on Tuesday August 7 and Ms Gordon and her family expressed their heartfelt thanks to everyone for helping them during this time. If you wish to help the Gordon family, you can contact Edwina Jacobs at 078 982 4450.