A Kuils River man who was killed in a fire at his home hid in the family’s freezer in a desperate attempt to survive the inferno.
The body of Heinrich Francis, 30, was found curled up in his mother’s deep freezer yesterday.
He lived in a separate entrance in the back of the Camelot house that was engulfed by flames in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Heinrich’s 10-year-old daughter Renecia Hartley, who lived in the main house, also died from smoke inhalation after she was rushed to the Eerste River hospital.
His siblings Farren, 22, and Shiloh, eight, and their mother Shirley Ruiters, 50, were all rushed to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
Shirley’s partner Cedric Petersen, 40, is said to be “fine” and managed to save the family and escape the blaze unharmed.
The City of Cape Town’s fire and rescue services says a burning entjie was the “probable cause” of the deadly fire.
Speaking to the Daily Voice hours after the tragedy yesterday, Shirley’s brother Kevin Ruiters said she still had “no idea what happened to her son”.
“She doesn’t know what happened and she doesn’t know yet that her son is dead,” he explains.
“Cedric came to get me at my house in Blackheath and said their house is on fire.
“When we arrived the ambulance and fire brigade were already here. By that time we already knew Heinrich didn’t make it. They couldn’t get out because of the burglar bars.”
Kevin says the fire brigade was called back to the house after a second fire broke out.
“The geyser blanket caught alight again,” says Kevin.
Next-door neighbours Sherie, 40, and Ashley Roman, 45, say they were woken by banging on their door and Cedric’s frantic screams for help.
“They rushed to open the garage door and they managed to get to Shiloh,” says Sherie.
“They couldn’t get to (Heinrich) and everyone asked where he was. That’s when we realised he didn’t make it.”
Ashley says he tried to break through one of the doors, and also douse the flames with a hose.
The entire back section of the house was destroyed including the garage and two cars.
Clothes, books, appliances and raw food lay scattered in the backyard.
The fridge Heinrich hid himself in was among the burnt debris.
Cedric’s devastated mother, Evelina Petersen, 66, pointed out the shape of Heinrich’s body inside the scorched fridge.
“My son has no clothes on his body at the hospital, just his onderbroek. He tried to save his family,” she cries.
Liezl Moodie from the City’s fire and rescue services says: “The formal dwelling sustained damaged to the kitchen, lounge and one bedroom.
“The probable cause of the fire was smoking.”