Residents at the Marseille block of flats on Hoosen Haffejee (Berg) Street had to be evacuated after one of the flats caught fire on Tuesday morning.
Traffic backed up along Hoosen Haffejee Street as fire crews tried to extinguish the blaze.
At around 6 am the fire department and paramedics responded to a fire after they were alerted by residents. Two units on the third floor were completely gutted while the third unit had minimal damage.
One of the tenants who was in the unit where the fire started, Sthabile Dlamini, said they don’t know how it started.
“I was sleeping and when I woke up my room was filled with smoke. I tried to crawl and get outside and I saw flames coming from the nearest room. I didn’t see exactly what happened but they say the fire started in the lounge.”
Dlamini said they didn’t have any electrical appliances connected in the lounge.
“In the lounge there is only a TV and we always switch it off and take the plug out of the socket. We are all very confused. All my things were damaged, even my cellphone and ID book.
“I am just left with what I’m wearing right now. I had a job interview today but how will I go? I don’t even have clothes to wear,” she said.
Another tenant, Lihle Buthelezi from Empangeni, said she had moved into the unit two months ago.
“I always sleep with the lights on and when I smelt the smoke I thought it was my light bulb going off. But I realised that the whole house was engulfed with smoke and I started screaming and managed to run out.
“I stood in front of our flat and screamed and other residents came out. Luckily, the other lady who stays with us had already left with her nine-year-old son.”
Grade 12 pupil Noluthando Mlambo, who lives on the ground floor of the three-storey building, said she heard people screaming just after 6 am. She said the entire building was filled with thick smoke.
Noluthando said she had just woken up, preparing to revise for her life science exam.”
“I heard people screaming, ‘Fire, fire, fire’ … I then woke everyone in the house. We took with us a box containing our important documents such as our ID books and a few clothes. But fortunately, our floor was not affected by the fire.
“Unfortunately, I will miss the exam which I was supposed to write at 9 am as we are not allowed to return back to the building until it is declared safe for us,” she said.
Msunduzi fire department divisional officer Nkosinathi Mchunu said the fire crews saw flames billowing from the third floor.
“The first unit where the fire started was gutted and everything destroyed. The second one was also burnt. No person has been reported injured.”
The Msunduzi Disaster Management Unit who were also at the scene said they would do an inspection to see who required their assistance.