Tenant dies in burning house

house fire INLSA 15/05/2011 The remains of the house where a woman was found dead at the Orchards. Picture: Sarah Makoe

On Saturday morning a resident of The Orchards got a call every home owner dreads: your house is on fire.

The fire destroyed Hanta Snydert’s home and claimed the life of her young tenant.

Snydert, who was not at home, got the call from her neighbour.

“I could not believe it and phoned my neighbour back to ask if she was sure it was my house,” said Snydert.

Driving home, she saw the smoke as she came over Theo Martinspoort, all the time trying to call her tenant, who had moved in just a week ago.

Getting no response, she suspected that her tenant was not home.

But when she and her son, Gert Snydert, 28, walked through the house after it had been damped down by firefighters, another shock awaited them.

Her son came across the charred remains of her tenant.

“We could not believe our eyes. It was such a shock to us, and I broke down,” Snydert said.

She said she did not want to give the young woman’s name as she was not sure if her family had been informed of the tragedy.

Snydert lost her husband two years ago and said the last house insurance debit order had been deducted in March.

“I don’t know what I am going to do,” said an emotional Snydert.

Johan Pieterse, spokesman for Tshwane safety and security, said someone had reported the fire to the Rosslyn Fire Brigade.

When firefighters arrived at the house at about 7.20am, four rooms were alight.

Pieterse said it took firefighters about 20 minutes to bring the blaze under control. A further 20 minutes were needed to damp down the house.

Netcare 911 paramedics were also at the scene.

The cause of the fire has yet to be established.

Fire forensic investigators were combing through the charred ruins in Fairwood Street yesterday.

Colonel Burgert Kloppers, from the forensic science lab, said there were aspects they had to look at during an investigation.

Investigators looked at ventilation patterns, and for forced entry if foul play was suspected. The rooms with more damage than the rest of the house were investigated, Kloppers said.

In some cases dogs were also used during the investigation.

The dogs, known as accelerant detection dogs, were trained to detect flammable accelerants like petrol, paraffin and thinners. In some cases, dogs would also be used to detect body fluids.

Kloppers said it would be some time before the outcome of the investigation was known. - Pretoria News


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