A family living in Bridgetown, Athlone has lost everything to a fire caused by fireworks set off on New Year’s Day. Ignoring the dedicated sites to set off fireworks, people disregarded the law and set off fireworks in the streets, resulting in devastating consequences.

The couple, their daughter, her husband and two children lost everything in the fire, which was started by fireworks landing on their roof. Keith Rose said the house had been their family home for more than 2o 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.

Neighbour of the family and community worker Sandra Adams described what happened when the fire started.

“All I saw was a fireball landing on their roof and the next moment the entire house was on fire. The flames were 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 also stayed in the house with their children. They said all that remained from the fire was the clothing they were wearing. The fire destroyed all their children’s clothing, as well as their diapers and milk formula, Lauren said.

The City of Cape Town has said it would be looking into stricter penalties for those who set off 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.

Picture David Ritchie

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