Neighbour saves house from going up in flames

Toni Aranes’s kitchen after the fire.

A heroic deed by a neighbour has saved a Glencairn woman’s house from burning down.

Toni Aranes’s kitchen went up in flames on Sunday January 9 due to an electrical fault.

The swift response from her 20-year old neighbour, who has asked not to be named, with a fire extinguisher in hand, saved the day… and her house.

Ms Aranes said she usually took an afternoon nap on a Sunday, but, ironically, on this particular Sunday, she was cleaning out her cupboards in her upstairs bedroom looking for linen and clothes to take to Living Hope for fire victims.

“While I was busy, I heard a popping noise, and there was a very strong chemical smell. By the time I had reached the third step, black smoke was billowing upstairs, and I could hardly see the bottom of the stairs,” she said.

She is unsure how she did it, but she managed to switch off the main switch on her electrical distribution board in a kitchen cupboard.

“All I could see was massive flames in the kitchen,” she said.

She ran outside and closed the door behind her and called out to her neighbour who lives across the road from her.

“I’m not sure if she heard me, but I then sent a message to the community WhatsApp group and the Glencairn Heights Neighbourhood Watch,” she said.

It was then that her neighbour’s son came rushing past her with a fire extinguisher.

“He was extremely calm, and I told him to be careful. He went inside and just like that extinguished the fire.”

The neighbourhood watch arrived soon afterwards along with a fire truck and other neighbours.

“I am so extremely grateful to live in a community with so many caring people,” she said. “I don’t know where to start and how to thank everyone from my neighbours to the fire department and the neighbourhood watch.”

Ms Aranes’s house is a semi-detached duplex, and if her neighbour had not extinguished the fire, she said, her house and her next-door neighbour’s house could have gone up in flames.

“He was so brave, and I am extremely grateful to him,” she said.

She suffered smoke inhalation but signed a waiver to say she did not want to be taken to hospital.

“My neighbour from across the road had a nebuliser and nebulised me, and I used my asthma pump,” she said.

Her electricity was only restored on Wednesday, January 12.

She said the damage was estimated to be around R50 000 according to an assessor.

Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town firefighters were dispatched after getting the call at 3.53pm and had found the fire already extinguished, said City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse. He said Ms Aranes should get an electrician to inspect the distribution board before switching on the electricity.