Five members of a Kharwastan family and two others perished in a house fire. The blaze is believed to have started after a gas cylinder exploded. Picture: Puri Devjee

Durban -

A family of five and two others died on Friday morning when their Kharwastan home was gutted by a fire.

A witness heard the children screaming during the fire.

Neighbours heard an explosion at about 3.30am, possibly from a gas cylinder.

When the Daily News visited the site, a smell of gas was apparent around the smouldering ruin of the Erica Avenue house.

A Pakistani man, his wife, two children and a relative perished.

Their names have been withheld until the next of kin have been informed.

Two families lived in the home divided into two sections. The other family managed to escape.

About 30 policemen, emergency services, and search and rescue members were on the scene.

One of the neighbours, who identified herself only as Charmaine, said the fire started at about 3.30am, but was confused because she heard the sound of breaking glass.

“When I stepped outside to see what was happening I heard children (inside the burning house) screaming and that’s when I rushed to the house and called 10111.

“They told me to call the fire department instead,” she said.

“The fire brigade arrived about 20 minutes after I had called and tried putting out the fire.

“But it was too late” she said.

“The first family, which is the landlord’s family, managed to escape before the fire got worse,” she said.

Five bodies were recovered, and a search revealed the other two bodies a short while later. Jewellery worth R300 000 was also recovered by police, a source said.

Other neighbours said they knew of the family only by sight, and did not know their names.

Ward councillor, Ganis Govender, said one of the reasons for the fire could be that services to the house had been cut off by the municipality for non-payment.

“They were utilising gas stoves and candles because they did not have electricity,” he said.

The landlord of the house, who lived there with his family and was able to escape, declined to comment.

Provincial police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said at about 5.30am on Friday, police arrived at Erica Avenue in Kharwastan to find that a house had burnt down.

He said the Fire Department was already on site.

Further information was not available as the police were still busy at the scene.

Daily News