Ten people died after fire engulfs lodge in Witdraai, Northern Cape
Ten people died, eight in the incident and two succumbed from their injuries, when the lodge in which they were staying went up in flames in Witdraai in the Northern Cape on Sunday, 16 August 2020. All the deceased were members of three families – the Carstens, Bauer and Davin families. The young fathers reportedly bravely ran in and out of the lodge to desperately try to rescue their children, who had been sleeping in the lounge. It was too late. A seven-year-old child was unaccounted for amid concerns that she died in the fire, said police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba. Rossouw Dreyer, operations manager for the Northern Cape EMS, reported that the call was received by Witdraai Police of a lodge burning at Blinkwater Lodge next to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari on Sunday morning at 01h20am. It was a structure fire in a wooden building with a thatch roof occupied by the three from Witzenberg in the Western Cape. “The Witdraai Police and Provincial EMS from Askham and Rietfontein responded with an ambulance each and, on arrival, found a house well alight with a number of casualties lying outside. There are no fire services in area with closest being in Upington about 250km away. Two critical patients with third degree burns were transported to Upington Medi Clinic with private transport before the arrival of EMS. South African Police Service (SAPS) K9 Upington and SAPS Search and Rescue Upington were activated to assist with search and recovery as well as tracking teams from SANParks. A spesialised SAPS unit was also activated from Gauteng”, said Dreyer. Aerocare Aeromedical Service transferred the two critical patients to Cape Town.
“Five children and two adults died in the fire”, said Brigadier Ramatseba. One child was unaccounted for. Two male adults succumbed from their injuries in hospital and the body of the missing child was found. Brigadier Ramatseba confirmed that the unidentified remains of a child had been found but was awaiting confirmation on identity from forensic experts.
Frans Davin age 36 and Hendri Carstens age 39, were airlifted to hospitals in Cape Town shortly after the blaze. Carstens died hours later and Davin died on Tuesday morning, 18 August 2020, from severe burn wounds.
Two of Frans Davin’s children died in the fire while his wife, Wilmien and 15-month-old son Ben survived.
Hendri Carstens’ wife, Dane age 36 and their two children, age three and five, died in the fire.
Stefan Bauer age 39 and his daughters aged four and seven, also died in the fire. He is survived by his wife Madelein.
Challenges faced during response included that there is no fire service nearby and only ILS EMS Services. “Access to water in a semi desert environment also created challenges”, said Dreyer.
Sources: Rossouw Dreyer, operations manager, Northern Cape EMS, SA People and News 24