Liberia Dondes died in her mother's arms after a fire ripped through their house. Picture: Monique Duval
Cape Town - A double tragedy struck a Bonteheuwel family who lost their eight-year-old daughter and their home in a fire.

Liberia Dondes died of smoke inhalation in her mother’s arms after a blaze engulfed her family’s Camelia Street home on Thursday.

The house is a council rental unit and, due to the structural damage, the family will have to move temporarily.

Mom Ebeniez, 27, says words cannot describe how she feels after losing her first-born daughter. She says the family went to bed shortly before 9pm and woke up to the screams of relatives who live in a Wendy house behind the main house.

Liberia Dondes, 8
Liberia Dondes, 8

“I was sleeping in the top room with Liberia and her sister Yvonne. There was another child and we just heard the family at the back screaming. The smoke was everywhere and we all tried to get out of the house.”

The mom says she picked up her smaller daughter and ran, and when she got downstairs, she saw firefighters had arrived.

When she turned to look for Liberia, she noticed the girl had not made it out of the house, and the mom alerted firefighters.

Ebeniez says a few minutes later she saw two firefighters run past her holding Liberia.

Ward councillor Angus McKenzie with sister, Yvonne, and mom Ebeniez Picture: Monique Duval
Ward councillor Angus McKenzie with sister, Yvonne, and mom Ebeniez Picture: Monique Duval

City Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, says the little girl suffered smoke inhalation and CPR was initiated, but was unsuccessful.

The Grade 2 learner from Cedar Primary School was the only fatality. Her aunty, Virginia Booysen, 49, suffered several burns and was taken to hospital.

Ebeniez says they were later told that a relative in one of the backyard dwellings had fallen asleep with a lit candle which fell over and started the fire.

Layne, however, says the cause has not yet been established.

“She is fine, but my child is gone. I can’t even tell you how hartseer we are, she was a good child and very good at her school work. Her sister keeps asking for her and I don’t know what to say,” says the grieving mom.

Ward councillor Angus McKenzie said: “If you look at the back you can see the structural damage as the bricks are loose. We have asked the family to stay out of the house until the property is assessed by the City’s engineers. They will be accommodated elsewhere.”