Cheryllee Hannam
3 minute read
12 Jan 2016
12:42 pm

Community joins hands to help house fire victims

Cheryllee Hannam

The fire started in a bedroom next to the living room and spread to the rest of the house.

Firefighters work hard to extinguish the flames at a house in Westenburg in Polokwane after it caught alight. Pic: Review Online.

The community of Westenburg in Polokwane, Limpopo recently showed solidarity when they joined hands in helping Christina Adams get back on her feet after her house burned down on Friday morning.

Adams and her family lost all their belongings in the fire, which according to preliminary assessments of the cause, was due to an electrical fault, Review Online reported.

The 65-year-old Adams lives with her son Hendry, 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, all aged between one and 21 years.

She explained that the fire started in a bedroom next to the living room and spread to the rest of the house.

“The main switch in the kitchen exploded due to the heat and that also caused the fire to spread faster through the house. I tried to douse the fire with water, but eventually had to stand and watch how everything I owned burn to ashes. All my hard work gone, just like that.” Adams said.

While waiting for the fire brigade to arrive, the community pitched in and helped to fight the blaze, but their efforts were in vain.

Hendry’s hand was injured in the fire when he ran into the burning house to look for the children.

“I was in my room and heard screams that there was a fire, and people wanting to locate the children. I ran into the burning house, looking for the children.

“There was smoke everywhere and I could barely see. I rushed to the room where the children usually sleep and when I opened the door, I was greeted by flames and smoke. I grabbed the mattress from the bed, but this too was on fire and I injured my hand,” Hendry recalls.

The house of Adams’s neighbour Katrina Leen was also damaged.

The municipality issued notices to both Leen and Adams to declare their homes unsafe for occupation, and a municipal team would visit the homes this week to assess the damage and safety of the structures.

Hendry’s room next to the house was not damaged and Adams is temporarily staying there while her grandchildren have been placed with extended family and friends.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has on Friday assisted the family with 10 blankets and mattresses and also some toiletries. The municipal disaster management team also gave blankets and a tent to help the family.

The community assisted by cleaning the house the following day, and a Westenburg Disaster Management Committee was formed to help the family.

The family also received help from Polokwane Child and Family Welfare, who invited the grandmother and her grandchildren to come to their offices to select clothes for them. Sassa also promised to bring them food.

The Westenburg Secondary School school governing body pledged to help the children with school uniforms and they also received a pledge from Good Hope Primary School for uniforms.

The local disaster management committee said it was still looking for other sponsors to help with the rebuilding of the house and someone who could assist with trauma counselling.

– Caxton News Service