Troy Dempers was working on his car when the petrol tank exploded, burning his property in Rocklands. Pictures: Jack Lestrade / ANA

Cape Town - A backyard mechanic who was fixing an electrical problem, had to step on it when the car burst into flames. The fire quickly spread into the Mitchells Plain man’s house, nearly burning it to the ground.

Troy Dempers, a former truck driver who now repairs cars at home, was working on his Daewoo in the driveway of his home at about 3pm on Monday when the petrol tank suddenly caught fire, setting another car on the property alight as well. Dempers, who was sitting in the back seat, managed to escape through the boot of the Daewoo.

Black smoke alerted his neighbours in Hawk Street, Rocklands to the fire. Dempers suffered burns on his left leg, while while four family members were treated for smoke inhalation.

The lounge of the house Dempers shares with his wife Rosita, their five children - the youngest a one-year-old - and another relative was burnt out, all its windows broken and the front of the house was damaged, leaving the family without electricity.

Dempers suffered burns to his left leg.

Dempers was discharged from hospital on Tuesday. He explained that his car broke down on Sunday night and he tried to fix it on Monday.

“I am a part-time mechanic," he said. "I help the community also. I tried to fix my own car. There was an electrical problem and I was trying to fix it. I was sitting at the back, trying to do the electrical when the tank started burning and I couldn't stop it.”

Dempers said the car’s open boot saved his life and he managed to run into his house.

“There was dark smoke inside and I ran to the bathroom and filled the bath with water and used buckets [to douse the flames]. I want to thank my neighbours who helped to get people out of the house.”

Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Theo Laynec said the cause of the fire wass being investigated.

If you can assist Dempers and his family, contact Tamzyn on 060 930 7540 or 062 793 8174.

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