On Saturday July 20, Hout Bay local Helen Nuss (50) has been left with severe burns on her face and hands after adding turpentine to her wet firewood, in an effort to light a fire in her fireplace.

Nuss was officially admitted to hospital on Friday suffering both second and third-degree burns around her face and both her hands. She previously visited a government hospital to tend to her burns but has since been admitted for further care as she will have to undergo three skin grafts to fix the damage done to her skin.

A picture taken of Nuss in hospital.

The five-litre bottle of turpentine she was holding caught fire and exploded. The force from the explosion threw Nuss across her lounge, setting her hair, left ear, neck and both hands on fire.

Nuss’ left hand.

What was meant to be a relaxing evening spent in front of the fireplace turned into a traumatising event. Nuss has been left with severe burns that could leave permanent scars.

Luckily Nuss’ 20-year-old son was close by and able to dowse the flames with a hosepipe.

“It was a stupid mistake,” Nuss told TimesLIVE as she expressed her regret for having used the turpentine for lighting the fireplace.

Locals are reminded to be cautious when working with fire and to never add any flammable liquids to an open flame.

Helen does not currently have Medical Aid to cover the costs of her medical fees, if you would like to help Helen, you can donate here.

Pictures: Facebook/Helen Nuss

Article written by


We love this place! Cape Town Etc features news, reviews, entertainment and lifestyle in the Mother City.