Community Activist Dees Ahmed walks through fire debris at Povall Court. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/African News Agency(ANA)
Community Activist Dees Ahmed walks through fire debris at Povall Court. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/African News Agency(ANA)

Resident of burning block of flats fetches firefighters after futile calls

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Jan 19, 2021

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Durban - Residents of Povall Court on Musgrave Road feel the Fire Department could have responded better when their building was engulfed in flames before midnight on Saturday.

The fire started in one flat but quickly spread to the rest of the flats on the top floor of the three-storey building.

Some residents believe the fire could have been caused by a power surge when electricity was restored because there was load shedding from 10pm until midnight. However, others believe a candle might have been behind the blaze.

Resident Paddington Noashaad said after many calls to the fire department he drove to fetch the firefighters five minutes away.

“The truck was slow following me back,” he said.

Noashaad said his flat could have been unaffected because he had asked the firefighters to start at his flat and move towards the fire because the damage had already been done.

“Only two flats had caught fire by then. Two units would have been saved. I was so angry at what they did.”

Paddington Noashaad’s flat was badly damaged during a fire. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/African News Agency(ANA)

He said another fire broke out in one of the flats on Sunday. After calling, he fetched the fire department again.

Noashaad lost more than R116 000 worth of belongings in his lounge - two fridges, a television, carpet and sofas. He had bought some of the items in the past few months.

He said the way the fire department handled the situation really pained him.

Leisha Harriram said after they had gone to bed, she heard her youngest daughter screaming.

“My daughter was screaming that something was burning in our lounge area. I don’t know if it was a power surge. We just woke up to a burning place.”

She said the neighbours came and they used a hose and buckets of water to douse the flames.

Harriram said they lost all their belongings and are not insured.

She said all four flats on the top floor were burnt.

Harriram said they called the fire department but could not get through.

“If everything was done diligently, we could have saved quite a bit.”

Ward Councillor Charmaine Clayton shows the extensive fire damage to the top floor of Povall Court. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/African News Agency(ANA)

Ward councillor Charmaine Clayton said she spoke to Wakefields Property, which collected the residents’ levies.

“They said they cannot confirm anything right now because the assessors will only be out on Monday morning.”

She said people were giving what they could and companies were offering their help. Others offered furniture and those offering money were asked to give vouchers and food hampers instead. Bed&Breakfasts also offered to house the residents.

Fire Department division commander Trevor Stevens said there seemed to have been a delay in the call because when they reached the building the fire was already ablaze in three flats.

“Where the delay was we don’t know. Whether people phoned the wrong place or they couldn’t get through. I cannot comment on the delay.”

He said there was a resident who met the fire department along the way and guided them there.

Stevens said a hydrant near the building did not work but the second hydrant worked. They did not arrive with a water tanker but called for it and the hydrant was working before the water tanker arrived.

He said it took more than an hour to put out the fire.

Daily News

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