Keith and Vivian Rose’s house in Bridgetown, Athlone, burnt down on New Year's Eve, allegedly when a flare fired nearby landed on their roof. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - In spite of having dedicated sites to set off fireworks, people still disregarded the law and set off fireworks in their streets with disastrous consequences on New Year’s Day.
In one such incident a family from Bridgetown, Athlone, who came from a church service just after midnight, found their house gutted after fireworks landed on their roof.

The couple, their daughter, her husband and two children lost everything in the fire. Keith Rose said his family had been living in the house for more than 20 years.

“It is the first time a fire has broken out here. We were in church. We arrived home just after 12 midnight on New Year’s morning. It was shocking to see there was nothing left of our house. Luckily no one was inside at the time of the fire. The flames were very big and we could not go inside to save anything. I am a diabetic and all my medication was lost. We were in the process of extending our house - luckily that part didn’t burn down. It is not nice going into 2018 like this,” he said.

One of the neighbours, community worker Sandra Adams, described the incident: “All I saw was a fireball landing on their roof and the next moment the entire house was on fire. The flames were huge and everything was burning. People were coming with buckets of water from everywhere trying to douse the flames. Mr Rose wanted to run inside the house but we told him not to,” she said.

Lauren and Lechester Williams, who also stayed in the house with their children, said only the clothes they were wearing remained. The fire also destroyed all the children’s clothing including their diapers, plus milk formula, Lauren said.

Meanwhile the City of Cape Town said it would be looking at stricter penalties for people who discharge fireworks in residential areas.

“We are confiscating fireworks from people who are selling them on the street. Fireworks are confiscated by law enforcement officials from people who discharge them in residential areas and they are fined.There are designated areas where fireworks can be discharged. I had complaints until the early hours of Monday about fireworks,” said mayco member for safety and security JP Smith.

“We had to shut down fireworks on the Grand Parade, because there are many flammable things there. In another incident a dog was found strangled on a leash. It is suspected it was due to the fireworks”, he said.

Louise van der Merwe from the Human Education Trust said fireworks needed to be banned. “It is tragic to see how animals suffer due to the enormous noise. We should really look at banning them,” she said.

Many people complained on social media about how fireworks affected their animals. They said they would be starting petitions.

Cape Argus