Man dies in wendy house blaze

The wendy house up in flames.

A 47-year-old Beacon Valley man died after a fire broke out in his wendy house while he was asleep on Tuesday January 29, at about 10pm.

Neighbours in Rolbal Street made every effort to douse the fire and save Brian Harricombe.

His youngest sister, Bernadette Williams, 45, said all she heard him say for the last time was “Bernie, help”.

“I was putting my children to bed. My husband, Morné , looked through the window and told me that the wendy was on fire. Morné tried kicking the door open thrice but it did not open. I called out to my brother to make sure he was inside, he called out to me but it was too late.

“I have the most amazing neighbours. They all came with buckets of water, a few people jumped onto the roof to put the fire out from above,” said Ms Williams.

Her 15-year-old daughter took her siblings, a 1-month-old baby girl and 2-year-old boy to a neighbour after the windows burst and the stench of smoke hung heavy in the house.

Togiedah Koopman’s house is directly connected to Ms Williams’. The roof at the back of her house was affected as well as the flooring and cracks have appeared in the wall.

“I heard my dog barking and saw a lady run pass my house when I went outside and saw the flames. I brought my children out of the house for safety.”

Another neighbour, Conquita Jansen, 35, heard her neighbours scream that the wendy house was on fire. “Everybody came to help. It is not the first time our neighbourhood has reached out to help in time of need.”

The forensics department told Ms Williams that her brother’s body had burned beyond recognition as it could not be identified by them, it needs to undergo DNA testing to prove identity.

It will cost R1 200 to have Brian’s remains released within two to three weeks through a private service and nine months if the family works through the government. This would delay his funeral.

“Brian was a very humble person. He would bring sweets and take my children to the shop to buy chips. He would have turned 48 in November this year.

“I am at peace with everything and God makes me stronger,” said Ms Williams.

She did not have any photos of her brother because her phone containing pictures of him was stolen.

“I would love to thank my community, everyone in this area who was involved in helping my family and I to put out the fire and doing the best they could for my late brother. My husband was my hero, he put himself on the line, we were not going to rest until we did everything to save him. My brother and I were very close and I will miss him, I will miss him here with us.”

Theo Layne, spokesperson for the City’s Fire and Rescue Services, said the fire seems to have been caused by a candle that was left unattended.

If you would like to assist the family, you can contact Ms Williams on 074 312 9280.