Pensioners forced to sleep in fire ravaged home

Titus and Chistrina September's house caught fire in Wallacedene.

Titus September, 86, and his wife Christina, 69, woke up to a strange burning smell around 5am on Wednesday April 10.

The couple only realised the fire was coming from the back room of their three-bedroom house in Nellie Street, when Ms September saw black smoke when she got up to go to the bathroom.

Ms September alerted her family, and everyone, including a 10-month-old, was able to get out safely before they heard the asbestos roof starting to crack. “I shouted loud enough for everyone in the house to hear me, and I ran to grab my grandchild. We couldn’t save anything but ourselves,” she said.

Neighbours brought buckets and hose pipes to fight the fire, but only the dining room was saved by the time the City’s fire and rescue services arrived.

According to Ms September, none of her four family members could give an account of how the fire started, neither could her nephew who slept in a back room. “The fire destroyed three rooms, the kitchen and bathroom. Our clothes, beds,furniture, IDs, Sassa cards and other personal documents were lost in the fire,” she said.

The family are now sleeping uncomfortably on the dining room floor – haunted by the smell of their fire-gutted home.

“Imagine living in a house for more than 40 years and a fire comes and breaks it down in a number of minutes. It was sad to see the house go up in flames.”

Charities, such as the BMW Society Club and the Scottsdene Samaritans, have donated food and clothes to the family, and they are appealing for clothes, food, unwanted furniture, bedding or any household items.

According to Fire and Rescue spokesman Jermaine Carelse, firefighters responded to the call-out at 5:41am.

“Bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen were well alight on arrival of the first fire engine on the scene.”

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is undetermined.

“The City’s informal settlements management department made an assessment and offered a starter kit to help rebuild the back of the property, while the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre requested that the South African Social Security Agency provide humanitarian relief.”