The fire quickly spread into the Mitchells Plain man’s house, nearly burning it to the ground.
Troy Dempers, a former truck driver who now repairs cars at home, had been working on his Daewoo in the driveway when the petrol tank suddenly caught alight on Monday at 3pm.
The mechanic, who was sitting in the backseat, nearly died but managed to escape through the boot. A second car on the property also burnt.
Black smoke alerted his neighbours in Hawk Street, Rocklands to the fire.
Troy shares the house with his wife, Rosita Dempers, 47 and their five children, the youngest a one-year-old, and another relative.
The dad was left with a burnt leg while four family members were treated for smoke inhalation.
His entire lounge was burnt and the windows all broken, the front of his house was damaged and the family has no electricity.
Troy was discharged from hospital on Tuesday.
Speaking from his damaged lounge, the devastated dad explained that his car broke down on Sunday night and he tried to fix it on Monday.
“I am a part-time mechanic. I help the community also. I tried to fix my own car. There was an electrical problem and I was trying to fix it,” he explains.
“I was sitting at the back, trying to do the electrical when the tank started burning and I could not stop it.”
Troy says the car’s open boot saved his life and he managed to run into his house.
“There was dark smoke inside and I ran to the bathroom and filled the bath with water and used buckets [to douse the flames].
“I want to say thank you to my neighbours who helped to get people out of the house.”
Troy suffers from osteoarthritis after he was hit by a vehicle while on duty four years ago and was medically boarded.
His wife, Rosita, also made headlines last June after she gave birth to their daughter in the toilet at her workplace in Keerom Street in the CBD.
Rosita was not aware that she was pregnant and was helped by a complete stranger who delivered the baby. She named her child Grace.
Theo Layne, spokesperson for the City’s Fire and Rescue Services, says the cause of the fire is being investigated.
If you would like to assist Troy and his family, contact Tamzyn on 060 930 7540 or 062 793 8174.