Home News City father dies, family injured after explosion

City father dies, family injured after explosion


“There was screaming from outside and the children were screaming and crying inside the house. Everything happened so fast and seemed like a dream.”

TRAUMATISED: Sophie Kgakatsi (wife of Phillip Thompson) and her sister, Emily Kgakatsi, sit in a bedroom which was blackened by the smoke of the fire which broke out in the lounge where the paraffin heater apparently exploded early on Sunday morning. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A 47-YEAR-old Phuthanang man, Philip Thompson, died in a fire after a paraffin heater in his home exploded.

The incident also left Thompson’s family with burn injuries and extremely traumatised.

According to Thompson’s wife, Sophie Kgakatsi, the couple and their two children, aged nine and 11 years old, were all inside the house when the incident occurred.

Kgakatsi said yesterday that she was woken up in the early hours of Sunday morning after she heard banging on their front door and burglar gate.

“I was asleep in the bedroom. I went to bed first and the children also went to bed straight after me. My husband was not yet asleep. I am not certain what he was still busy doing. He had an operation to his leg and he used the paraffin heater to keep the injury warm when it started to hurt. I fell asleep and was woken up abruptly by the neighbours who were smashing our windows out and kicking the front door.”

Kgakatsi said she was disoriented but knew when she saw that the room was full of smoke that something was wrong.

“I at first did not understand why the people were breaking our windows. After smelling the smoke, I then realised that there was a fire. The bedroom was pitch black from the smoke and I could not see anything. I opened the door and saw that the living room was on fire. The curtains, television, lounge set and everything else in the living room were on fire.

“There was screaming from outside and the children were screaming and crying inside the house. Everything happened so fast and seemed like a dream.”

She added that she barely remembers being pulled out of the burning house.

“The people who assisted us managed to break down the door and burglar gate. I remember falling down. I was drowsy and felt like I was fainting. The next moment I could feel someone pulling me out and I was outside the house with both my children.

“Everything was a daze and someone was calling an ambulance. At that stage I was not certain and did not ask whether my husband made it out of the blaze.”

Kgakatsi said she heard later that her husband had died in the blaze.

“We were taken to hospital for medical assistance. I sustained burn injuries to my ear and my thighs. My nine-year-old daughter sustained burn wounds to both her hands and forehead. The 11-year-old child sustained burn wounds to her nose.

“When we returned home I heard that my husband had died. I was shocked as I thought I would find him alive at home. While I was at the hospital I never thought that he did not make it.

“My heart is broken as everything happened so fast,” she cried.

Kgakatsi said that she doesn’t know where to begin to rebuild her life.

“We not only lost the majority of our belongings but the most important person in our lives. The smoke has damaged our house. My husband was the one taking care of me and our two children and now he is gone. I am left to fend for myself and my children since the person I depended on is now gone. All the windows of our house are broken by the people who tried to save us from the blaze. I am now sitting with an empty house which is in ruins in the middle of winter,” she said with tears running down her face..

Police spokesperson Captain Bashaobile Kale said that the police are investigating the matter.

“The Kagisho police are investigating an inquest after a man died of suspected smoke inhalation on Sunday morning, June 7, 2019, at about 1am, at Samora Machel Street in Phutanang.

“It is believed that the man was watching Bafana Bafana’s Afcon (Africa Cup of Nations) game (on Saturday evening) and was seated with a paraffin stove. The man fell asleep while the stove was on and the sofa caught fire. The fire spread and engulfed the house.

“The man was pulled out of the inferno by neighbours but was declared dead on the scene by ambulance personnel. An inquest is being investigated,” said Kale.