Brandon Petersen looks on as neighbours help clean the area where his brother burnt to death. A family of five died in a devastating fire in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, on Saturday when their Wendy house went up in flames at about 4am. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Brandon Petersen looks on as neighbours help clean the area where his brother burnt to death. A family of five died in a devastating fire in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, on Saturday when their Wendy house went up in flames at about 4am. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Five people die in a Tafelsig fire that destroyed two backyard dwellings

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Jul 26, 2021

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Cape Town - Five people died in a fire that destroyed two backyard dwellings in Buffelshoek Street, Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain on Saturday morning.

A two-year-old boy was the sole survivor of a devastating fire that wiped out five of his relatives and destroyed his grandmothers home, leaving him injured.

The City’s Fire and Rescue Services said that a call for assistance was registered at 4.08 am and officers who responded to the scene were told that children were trapped inside a burning structure.

Spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said: “When crews from Mitchells Plain fire station arrived at the scene in Buffelshoek Street, they found a Wendy house engulfed in flames.

“A man, woman and three girls were declared deceased on the scene and one boy was treated for burn wounds. Firefighters extinguished the fire at about 5.10am and the scene was handed over to the police.”

Police in Mitchells Plain have registered an inquest docket for investigation.

Police spokesperson André Traut said: “At 3.50am on Saturday morning Mitchells Plain police were called to the scene of a fire in Buffelshoek Street, Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain.

“Upon arrival at the scene, police found the bodies of five people under the debris of the fire. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. An inquest docket was opened for investigation, and a post-mortem will be conducted to determine the identities of the victims. Anyone with any information about this incident is kindly requested to contact Mitchells Plain SAPS on 021 370 1600 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.”

A family member of the deceased, Mariah Petersen, said family members were struggling to come to terms with the deaths of their loved ones.

“Everything happened so quickly. We were sleeping when the fire started and by the time we became aware of what was going on the flames had already engulfed everything. We tried everything that we could but nothing worked.

“We couldn’t do anything to help,” said a traumatised Petersen.

“We tried different angles, but it was just too late. They burnt inside. It was much, this is too much,” she said.

Tafelsig councillor Wasiela Harris said: “This is truly a tragic incident and I can’t imagine what the family must be going through. I have been to visit the family and later today I will head back with the mayor and speak with the family on how best we can support them through this time.”

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