Bright Kasambiza outside his home which has been gutted by a fire in the Primrose hill area next to the N3 highway. 290814. Picture: Chris Collingridge 537

Johannesburg - Shivering in an icy pool of water in his flip-flops on Friday morning, Bright Kasambiza said he was just grateful to be alive.

Kasambiza’s rented flat in Primrose Hill next to the N3 south, was razed by a fire that destroyed everything he owned.

“When I say everything, I mean everything,” he said.

All he could grab before fleeing his flat, was a jersey and a pair of jeans. He didn’t even have enough time to fetch a pair of shoes and he was forced to watch firefighters comb his flat while standing in a pool of water wearing flip-flops.

He shivered in the icy wind which has hit Gauteng.

“I was sleeping and I kept smelling something,” he said.

At first, Kasambiza thought it may have been someone burning something nearby as he said that happened regularly in the area.

He went back to sleep, but was again woken up by the smell.

“I was getting nauseous, I thought let me get up and check it out,” Kasambiza said.

When he opened his bedroom door, he said he saw the flat was filled with smoke and he rushed to his flatmate’s room and found the door locked.

“I kicked it in,” Kasambiza said.

They called for help and tried to find a fire extinguisher, but had to flee the smoke and flames.

“I’m feeling alive, I’m thankful. It could’ve been worse, the smoke could’ve got me in my sleep,” said Kasambiza.

Ekurhuleni Emergency Management Services (EEMS) was called to the scene at 7.20am and six fire trucks were dispatched to contain the fire before it spread to other flats in the building.

“The wind was blowing and basically fanning the fire,” said EEMS spokesman William Ntladi.

Firefighters battled to get on to the roof because the proximity of the building to the highway meant they could not approach the building with the wind behind them.

“We basically had to go head-on into the fire,” he said.

At the time of publication, he said there had been no injuries or fatalities as they had managed to evacuate all the residents.

However, firefighters were still combing the scene to ensure there were no other people that were unaccounted for.

The cause of the fire was still unknown by the time of publication.

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The Star