Update: Our true heroes desperately try to save family from fire

Two armed response officers went beyond the call of duty last night (Wednesday) to try and save a family of four who were trapped by a deadly fire that broke out in the lounge of their house in Mimosa Road.

During an exclusive interview with the Ladysmith Gazette, NN Alarms armed response officers Sam Maharaj and Shaun Mynhardt recall the horrific ordeal. The officers themselves are finding it difficult to come to terms with the fact that three lives were lost in the tragic incident. Shouts of “Help! Help! Help!” are still echoing in their minds.

The officers were on patrol in Illing Road when their control room informed them to respond to a panic button that had been pressed in Mimosa Road. Not knowing what was going on at the house in question, the officers reached their destination within minutes.

On arrival, Sam and Shaun were greeted with smoke and flames coming out of the building.  The two men jumped over the boundary wall and made their way to the back entrance of the house to gain entry.

One of the officers broke a window and burglar guard gates in order to enter the house. With no breathing apparatus, Sam Maharaj climbed through the window, knowing full well that he was risking life and limb.

“Everything was thick black smoke and extreme heat. I couldn’t see anything.”

Hearing petrified screams for help, he knew that people needed rescuing, but didn’t know exactly where in the house they were. He had suffocating smoke and a fiery inferno to deal with and needed to keep his wits about him. Sam first made his way to the main bedroom. However, the room stood empty.

Having difficulty breathing, he exited the building, gasping for fresh air to fill his lungs again.

The officers then decided to try another entry point into the house. By then, police had arrived and had managed to kick down the front door and open the back door, making it a lot easier for the two armed response officers.

Before entering the house again, a neighbour gave the NN Alarms heroes a damp T-shirt to use as makeshift breathing apparatus. The two men shared the shirt, walking side-by-side and searching the smoke-filled home.

Eventually, the brave men found the family in a bathroom. All four were unconscious but still alive. However, the younger of the two children was in really bad shape.

The family members were carried out of the building by the two exhausted and out-of-breath men.

Shaun even tried to perform CPR on the toddler, but by then it was too late.

With heavy hearts, the two brave men have to live with the fact that, despite their great efforts, three of the four family members died. Shaun and Sam describe the incident as traumatising and very sad. “We didn’t even think of our lives being at risk. Getting the occupants out of the house was all we thought about.”

A seven-year-old girl was the sole survivor of the incident and is currently in hospital.

Shaun also had to make his way to hospital to seek medical attention for smoke inhalation. There too, instead of being treated, he helped the nurses with the seven-year-old girl.

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