“I wish this was just a nightmare. We’ve lost everything,” said the woman, who did not want to be named.
They lived in two of the three flats above Merebank Mall in Natraj Road.
According to fire officials, the fire is suspected to have started in one flat before spreading to the others.
“I was outside our block of flats when I noticed some smoke coming out of the windows. I rushed up thinking maybe someone had forgotten something on the stove and it was burning. This was around 9.30am.
“When I got upstairs, I realised it was a fire and everyone was rushing out of the building. By the time we got back downstairs we saw how bad the fire was. Everything happened so fast. It felt terrible watching our home burn. We’ve lost everything. I keep thinking: ‘What if the fire happened at night while we were asleep?’ ”
Alfred Newman, Regional Commander of the eThekwini Fire Department, said yesterday that they were still investigating the cause of the fire.
Irshaad Akoob, a shop owner who helped to relocate the affected families, said they had all been moved to other flats in the block which were unoccupied and in the process of being renovated.
A mass relief drive has also taken off, appealing for donations for the families.
Sharin Rajman, who was co-ordinating the drive, said they had been overwhelmed by the support that had come in, but still needed specific items.
“We have five school-going children who’ve lost their uniforms, school shoes, bags and stationery. We have a three-month-old baby in need of nappies, formula, a bath tub, bottles and baby toiletries,” she said.
“The response from the community has been amazing. I put one message out on a WhatsApp group.
“People shared this on their groups. Before I knew it, we had responses from as far as Johannesburg. We’ve got groceries, clothing, some blankets. You can’t put a price tag on this kind of love and support.”
Rajman said they were still in desperate need of furniture, linen for double beds, towels and kitchen supplies like cutlery, crockery, and basic electrical goods.