THE quick response of a Walvis Bay resident saved the lives of three toddlers when a pot of cooking oil left unattended on a stove caught fire and caused the flat in which the children were trapped to come dangerously close to burning to the ground.
Tania van Rensburg Pearson, who lives in the same apartment complex said she was awake at 04:00 on Sunday morning when she became aware of a strong smoke smell.
“I could smell smoke and all of a sudden I heard the screams of children trapped in the flat a few doors down. I ran outside and to follow the sound and the smell and realized something was wrong at the neighbours flat.”
Pearson said she rushed inside and found a teenage boy attempting to extinguish flames caused by a pot of cooking oil that caught fire on the stove.
“The child used water to put out the oil fire on the stove which caused the flames to spread even faster. I carried the two small boys and a little girl outside and helped the bigger boy to put out the fire in the kitchen. In the process I managed to also call the fire brigade.”
Pearson said the besides the fact that the three toddlers were terrified they also inhaled a lot f the smoke inside and were coughing a lot.
“When the fire brigade arrived, they entered the house and came out after a while and told everyone that gathered at the scene that all was safe but that we should allow the thick smoke to dissipate before entering the flat again.
She said the parents of the children were nowhere to be found and she only realised later that the three toddlers were left in the care of the boy she estimates to be about 16 years of age.
“The boy told me that the mother and grandmother left Walvis Bay for a farm at the start of the weekend. All I could do was to take the children to my house where the slept until about 08:00.”
Pearson said that she went to check on the children at around lunchtime and realised that the boy left the flat after locking the smaller children inside the flat. Szhe said he was nowhere to be found.
“The neglect of the small children aggravated me a lot and I called the police and people from the child welfare services to help me get the children to safety.”
Pearson said the children was removed from the locked flat by the police and placed in the care of the welfare official until the parents returned late on Sunday afternoon.
Dennis Basson, Chief of the Walvis Bay Fire Brigade, confirmed the incident at the apartment complex and said if the fire in the kitchen wasn’t extinguished as quickly as it was that it definitely would have resulted in a tragedy.