Fire kills family of four

Onlookers inspect remains that were collected from the scene by forensic pathologists.

The cause of a fire that killed four people in Parkwood has still not been established and family of the victims are struggling to bury their loved ones.

The funeral arrangements for William October, 80, his son Brandon May, 46, his partner Sonia, 45, and their six year-old son Jayden Jantjies are still to be confirmed pending DNA results.

Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, confirmed four people died in a fire in the early hours of last Monday morning, February
17.

“At about 2am the City’s Fire and Rescue services responded to formal and informal structures alight in Cuckoo Crescent in Parkwood. Upon arrival the fire crews from Ottery and
Wynberg were confronted by both structures alight.

Bystanders reported people missing.

The bodies of two men, a woman and a child were found with fatal burn wounds.

“The fire was extinguished at 3:35am and a chaplain was requested to assist the family,” he said.

The cause of the fire had still not been established by the time Southern Mail went to print.

At the scene the following day, forensic teams collected more remains from the site.

Gavin May, brother of Brandon May, was cleaning debris from their home.

Mr May said his brother and his family had been sleeping and assumed they had died of smoke inhalation.

“We woke up to people screaming when the fire was already high but before that we did not hear any screams from my brother, Sonia or Jayden so we think they died of smoke inhalation,” he said.

Mr May lives in a separate structure on the premises and said he and his wife and two children had had to break down the back of their home to get away from the fire.

“We were trapped and couldn’t get through the front so we had to break through the back and jumped into the neighbour’s yard. We only realised afterwards that my brother and his family didn’t get out,” he said.

Neighbour Ronald Kiep said he had tried to wake the family up when he saw the smoke.

“I banged at Brandon’s structure but they didn’t answer so I thought they were out already but I think they were already unconscious because of the smoke inhalation,” he said.

Ward 66 councillor William Akim said the fire was devastating. “The community is devastated to lose a family in such a manner. The City of Cape Town is doing everything they can to assist the family but it is difficult as the house that was burnt is private property,” he said.

He added that the City had arranged for fire debris to be cleared and will provide material to rebuild the informal structure that was at the back. However, because the house is private property, belonging to Mr October and not council rental stock, council cannot contribute much else.

“I appeal to the community to donate goods, building material or their time to assist the family.

“Anyone willing to help
the family rebuild the house are welcome to. Someone in the area has offered to reinstall
electricity so any other help would be appreciated,” he
said

According to Mr Akim, Mr October had had a burial policy and the City would be assisting with the burial
arrangements of six-year-old Jayden.

“Brandon and Sonia were not insured but the family want to bury the four fire victims together on the same day so efforts are being made to help with the arrangements. As soon as the DNA result documents are processed we will get assistance for Jayden’s burial,” said Mr Akim.

Captain Wynita Kleinsmith, spokesperson for Grassy Park police, said no foul play was suspected and a docket of inquest was opened for investigation. “At this point it is unknown how the fire started.”