140728. Cape Town. The room on the first floor of Harbour View flats in woodstock where a 12 year old boy died. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape argus

Cape Town - A 12-year-old boy died in a fire that gutted a small flat in Woodstock last night. Security at the Harbour View apartments, about five minutes from the city centre, had smelled smoke coming from the first floor.

Building manager Raymond Whittles said when a guard went to investigate, he saw smoke billowing from underneath the door of one of the flats.

The fire alarm in the hallway outside was triggered as he went downstairs to call emergency services.

City fire services spokesman Theo Layne said firefighters sped to the building. They arrived shortly after 10.50pm and opened the door.

They didn’t expect to find anyone inside, but a woman escaped unharmed.

Police said the mother of the child was at work at the time.

When they went to put out the fire, they found the body of a 12-year-old boy.

Layne said it was suspected that the boy died from smoke inhalation.

Firefighters managed to contain the blaze before it spread beyond the flat, one of the bachelor units that make up the tall apartment block.

At the time of going to print, Layne said the cause of the fire had not yet been determined but police were investigating.

Whittles said detectives were set to arrive later on Monday to investigate what had happened in the flat.

In a 2010 report on causes of death, Stats SA said exposure to smoke, fire and flames were one of the most common causes of accidental death. In that same year, 2 350 people were killed in accidental fires.

Fires claimed more lives than drowning and poisonings.

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Cape Argus