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Cause of lodge fire still unknown

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Nine people – including one entire family – perished in the fire that broke out at the wooden lodge in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Wilmien Davin, her husband Frans and their children Frans-Jan and Iza. Picture: Supplied

THE CAUSE of the devastating fire that claimed the lives of nine people from three families who were holidaying together at the luxurious Witdraai Lodge near the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park has still not been determined.

The nine people – including one entire family – perished in the fire that broke out at the wooden lodge in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The nation is still reeling in shock following the news of the deaths of members of the Bauer, Davin and Carstens families, who are from Ceres in the Western Cape. Five of the victims are children and four are adults.

It is also expected that the forensic reports will soon reveal whether the remains found among the debris are that of missing seven-year-old Inge Bauer.

Only three people escaped the flames and emerged unharmed – a 15-month-old child, Ben, his mother, Wilmien Davin, 37, and Madeline Bauer, 36.

Northern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba said that two adults were rushed to a Cape Town hospital with serious burn wounds. Both, however, succumbed to their injuries – one on Monday and the other a day later.

The dead include Dané Carstens, 36, and her two sons, Pierre-Johan, 5, and Magiel, 3, who died in the fire, while husband and father Hendri, 39, was airlifted to hospital in Cape Town but later succumbed to his injuries.

Also dead are Stefan Bauer, 39, and his daughter Elre, 4. His wife Madelein, 36, survived, while Inge is still missing.

Frans-Jan, 5,and Iza Davin, 3, died in the fire, while their father Frans was flown to hospital where he too died of his injuries. Their mother Wilmien, 37, survived unharmed along with baby Ben (15 months old).

According to the local police, the Witdraai station received a call at around 1.20am on Sunday morning that the lodge (which was reportedly made of wood) was on fire. The young fathers reportedly ran in and out of the lodge to desperately try to rescue their children who had been sleeping in the lounge.

A forensic fire investigator and forensic anthropologists are busy processing the scene and will assist in identifying burned remains discovered at the scene and determine the cause of the fire.