Girl, 2, dies in Joburg flat fire

Emergency rescue personnel stand outside a building in Johannesburg where a fire broke-out. A 2-year-old child was killed in the blaze. Pic: Mduduzi Mtakati

Investigations are ongoing after a 2-year-old girl was burnt to death, while her 7-year-old sister was rescued from a fire reportedly caused by a heater at a block of flats on Eloff Street, Johannesburg, earlier today.

A neighbour who managed to save the sister of the deceased said he was outside his room on the 8th floor of the Italic Centre building at about 8.30am when he suddenly saw smoke in the corridor.

“I ran to the room and saw the girl standing at the locked burglar-bar door screaming for help. I managed to open the door using a piece of metal and grabbed her outside. When I looked inside the room, the fire was too much. I couldn’t go back in.”

“I feel sad because I could have saved the girl, but there was nothing I could do. The fire and smoke were overwhelming,” the visibly distraught neighbour who wished to remain anonymous said.

A colleague of the deceased’s grandmother, who also wished to remain anonymous, said the two girls were left alone while their grandmother went to work in the same building. They allegedly switched on a heater, which apparently started the blaze.

“Their mother is in hospital, as she recently gave birth. We have notified her about the incident, and she is devastated,” she said.

Emergency Management Services ( EMS) spokesperson Nana Radebe said: “Our fire safety officers are busy with preliminary investigations at scene. The 7-year-old girl and her grandmother were treated for smoke inhalation before they were rushed to hospital.”

In a separate incident, a 23-month-old baby died after his mother’s shack caught fire in an informal settlement in the Ramaphosa area of Boksburg, on the East Rand, in April.

The boy was burnt beyond recognition in the early hours of Saturday morning. He was confirmed dead on the scene.

Reiger Park police spokesperson Sergeant Mashudu Phathela confirmed the baby was alone in the shack at the time of the incident.

“His 28-year-old mother left the child alone and went to visit her boyfriend, who lives nearby. She apparently left a lit candle, which is believed to have caused the fire,” said Phathela.

– Caxton News Service

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