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Fire Sweeps Adventist Retirement Home in South Africa

Eighteen residents were killed and 84 are homeless from a fire that consumed the Pieter Wessels Frail Care & Community Centre in Nigel, South Africa. The Guardian writes:

Relatives of some of those trapped in the building tried to brave the smoke to rescue family members – many of them bedridden or in wheelchairs – but were held back by firefighters. Seventeen people died in the fire and another from a heart attack afterwards.

Three more of the home’s residents were taken to hospital, one in a critical condition with 40% burns.

Eighty-four people, four nursing staff and a cleaner were rescued from the Pieter Wessels retirement village in the town of Nigel.

The Star reports:

They stood outside the old age home on Sunday night screaming. . .and hearing the screams of their friends and relatives trapped inside the burning building.

Some tried to rush inside to rescue their relatives, but firemen restrained them.

There was nothing anyone could do – and 17 people were burnt to death. An 18th person died later from a suspected heart attack and 84 people were rescued.

Monday morning saw more horror at the Pieter Wessels Reitement Village in Dunnottar, Nigel, when relatives gathered to identify the dead.

They were told most were burnt beyond recognition. Survivors were transported to a local church.

Eyewitness News adds:

A security guard described to Eyewitness News how he tried to save some of the residents.

“Maybe I saved eight or nine people but some of them were too big and I could not carry them,” he said.

One lady who was treated on scene later died at a nearby church. Some appeared to be weak, frail and confused as they sat in wheelchairs.

Many of the residents have lost all their possessions and need some help.

“The community of Dunnottar has been good to us. They have given us blankets, clothes and food but the biggest need at the moment is adult diapers,” said the police’s Veeshani Arikum.

The elderly were looking forward to receiving their pensions on Monday but some of their ID books and other belongings were destroyed in the fire.

The Pieter Wessels Frail Care and Community Centre is operated by the Southern Africa Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Photos: Eyewitness News, Johannesburg.

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