SWAKOPMUND – The DRC community at Swakopmund was left devastated on Sunday evening after a mother, her daughter and grandchild died in a house fire. The heroic mother was, in fact, trying to rescue the two from the fire when the incident, which was allegedly caused by a burning candle left unattended, occurred.
The incident happened barely a week after the informal settlement of Twaloloka was ravaged by a devastating fire, which claimed the life of a 20-month-old toddler. The DRC fire victims were identified as Hileni Shimpanda (42), her daughter Pomwene Shimpanda (4) and her seven-year-old grandchild Helena David.
Three others, including a seven-day-old infant, survived the fire. Hilka Andreas, who lost her mother, sibling and daughter, was yesterday battling to come to terms with the horrific tragedy. Speaking to New Era, Andreas (26) said it is hard to grasp that an ordinary evening could turn out into a night of horror. “We all went sleeping as usual,” said Andreas, who recently moved in with her mother following the birth of her daughter.
She usually lived in Walvis Bay.
“The loss is really unbearable. I wish this never happened,” Andreas said. She explained her mother has been living at the informal settlement since 2000.
Erongo governor Neville Andre yesterday told New Era they sent a team to assess the situation and convey a message of condolences. “However, I will be going there today (yesterday) and we will also give some assistance to the family,” he said.
Crime investigations coordinator for the Erongo region Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu said that the family of six was sleeping when the fire started in the children’s room.
“It is believed that the candle that was left on might have caused the fire,” Iikuyu said.
According to Iikuyu, the mother went back to the burning shack to rescue her daughter and grandchild who were trapped in the fire.
“She also got trapped when she went back; as a result, all three burnt beyond recognition in the fire.”
Meanwhile, the Namibian Police yesterday expressed concern of the alarming figures of fire incidents in the last three weeks and which claimed at least nine lives. Apart from DRC and Twaloloka, fires also broke out at Grootfontein, Rehoboth, Oshikango, Pionierspark, Mondesa and Ariamsvlei (Komsberg Farm), where 16 shacks burnt on Sunday.
“It is against this background that the Namibian Police Force is urging the public to be extra cautious, particularly during nighttime when lighting is required and also that it might be very cold and alternative equipment’s will be needed to beat the cold. Police reports indicate that some of the fire incidents emanate from candles, oil/paraffin lamps, gas stove or risky electrical connections,” police spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi said in a statement.