Fire ravages Chapel Court

Father Philander Hope, Shirley Louw and her grandson Monrique Jonathan.

Just a month before Christmas, 40 Lavender Hill residents have been left homeless after a bungalow caught alight on Saturday November 14, at 2am.

The fire had apparently started after a candle fell over in the home in Chapel Court.

The residents lost all their belongings and don’t knowForty people were left displaced and those who lost all their possessions in a fire allegedly caused by a burning candle which “overturned” in a bungalow at Chapel Court, Lavender Hill, on Saturday November 14, at 2am, have no idea if their premises will be fixed before the holidays.

Theo Layne, station commander and spokesperson for the Fire and Rescue Service, confirmed: “The City’s Fire and Rescue Service responded to Chapel Court, said they responded to the blaze in Yoksal Street with Lavender Hill, on Saturday November 12, in early hours of the morning.

Response comprised of three fire engines, one water tanker and one rescue vehicle. Resources were dispatched from Lakeside, Constantia and Wynberg and Ottery fire stations.

“Two flats on the ground floor, two flats on the first floor and two flats on the second floor as well as two wood and iron structures and three motor vehicles were damaged by the fire. The suspected cause of fire, was a lighted candle overturning and igniting bedding. The fire left (40) persons displaced. The City’s Disaster Risk Management was notified of the incident,” said Mr Layne.

When asked if the victims would receive financial compensation, Benedicta van Minnen, Mayoral committee member for human settlements, said: “No, the City only insures the building and an insurance claim has been submitted. Tenants are required to insure their own household items and furniture.”

Southern Mail spoke to two families, a flat owner and one resident who lived in a bungalow. Stephany Beukman who lived in the flat with her husband, two daughters, aged 6 and 8 and her son aged 17, had to move to her sister’s flat close by.
“This is the first time I’ve experienced a fire since moving to Lavender Hill 32 years ago when I was five years old,” she said. The flats were built in 1974. Ms Beukman said fortunately, her daughters were sleeping over with family members when the fire broke out. “My son was here, but none of us got hurt.” She said she was grateful for her neighbours and the community who came to help douse the fire, but “we couldn’t save anything because the wind was too strong,” she said.

“The fire brigade didn’t take long but two of our cars were also burnt out.”

Shirley Louw, who lived in one of the destroyed bungalows, said she and her husband, three children – a seven-year-old son and two daughters aged 14 and 18 – and one grandson, 2, were not injured.

The lost all their possessions.

“We woke up about at 1.45am and saw that the bungalow next door was on fire. Neighbours came to assist and as we were trying to douse the fire, our bungalow caught alight.”

Ms Louw lived in the backyard of her parents’ flat. Her father Philander Hope’s car was also damaged by the fire.

Her mother’s kitchen wall and the fridge which was situated against the backyard wall burnt out. “We are living in our parents’ flat now and are sleeping on the floor.

“All our stuff was destroyed but we have received clothing and appliances from the community which are standing around the place in boxes.”

She said she is thankful for the community who reached out to them. “Where Rainbows Meet, a non-profit organisation, brought us lunch the next day and they said they will come back to give more.”

Mymoena Scholtz, founder of Where Rainbows Meet, said: “We took them a pot of food and rice but I am still trying to get some clothes for them. It will be sorted out soon, as children’s clothes are very difficult to find. We are lucky that some clothing came in on Friday November 18. We also donated a school uniform for one child. It is sad what has happened to these families.” If you want to help the victims, you can call Ms Beukman on
071 955 9109 or Ms Louw on 078 116 3869.