Flats gutted in fire

An aerial view of the blaze at a block of flats in Milnerton.

Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that gutted three flats in Milnerton last week.

Residents of Millvale, a three-storey block, in Millvale Road, realised something was wrong when they saw smoke coming from a flat on the top floor at about 9.30am on Thursday.

The burning flat was next door to Randall Swartz’s.

“I heard a knock on my door, and saw that it was the landlady. She told me that there was a fire and when I ran out, I saw the blaze.

“I have a friend who lives on the other side of the burning flat, and I knew he had come from working a night shift, so he was probably still asleep, and I had to wake him,” he said.

Mr Swartz managed to wake his friend, Brent Martin, before returning to his flat to try to save some of his belongings.

He managed to save a few things before the heat and smoke became too much to bear.

Some of the neighbours realised that the elderly man who lived alone in the flat where the fire had started was still inside and they pried open his security gate and kicked the door in.

They managed to carry the man out as he is old and sickly and couldn’t walk at that stage.

Mr Martin had arrived home at 5am from a night shift.

“My fiancée woke me up to say that Randall was at the door saying there was a fire.

“I was still half asleep when I got dressed, took my two-year-old daughter and ran out.

“The smoke was thick and black, and we could hardly see a thing. We tried using a fire extinguisher, but the fire was too strong, and all we could do was stand and watch,” he said.

Mr Martin said they had saved some clothes and electronics like the TV, DVD and cellphones. But everything else had been covered in smoke.

His fiancée, Michaela Fuchs, said whatever hadn’t been claimed by the fire was ruined by the rain over the weekend.

“Right now, we were offered accommodation in Summer Greens in a three-bedroom house. We have been offered to stay there for a month along with Randall’s family,” she said.

“I would like to thank the community of Milnerton because they really helped us out. From donating food, clothes, to toys for my little girl. The support has been overwhelming.”

Between the three flats, there were seven cats. Ms Fuchs has four, the old man in the burning flat has one and Mr Swartz had two but one died in the fire.

City of Cape Town spokesman Edward Bosch said fire services, the electricity department, Metro ambulance, SAPS, a structural engineer and a building inspector had responded to the scene.

“We received the call at 9.34am and the first vehicle arrived at 9.42am. One adult male suffered smoke inhalation. He was treated on the scene and he refused to go to the hospital. The cause of the fire is still undetermined at this stage,” said Mr Bosch.

Mr Swartz said he wanted to give special thanks to the owner of Milnerton Guesthouse, Glenda Pontes, for letting them stay in her establishment the night after the fire as they had had nowhere else to go.