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Cries For Help Heard From Burning Home

Cries For Help Heard From Burning Home
The Sunday night inferno that claimed the five lives at the house at V.M. Pillay road in Lautoka on Sunday night. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA
August 08
11:00 2017

The desperate cries of “Fire! Fire! Please help!” from three children, burned to death in a Lautoka fire, will always haunt Vatiliai Kau.

As Mr Kau and another person tried in vain to rescue the children, they saw the walls collapse on the children.

A devastated Mr Kau said: “Then suddenly their voices became silent. The only noise was from the fire itself.”

Vatiliai Kau, 52, a neighbour who witnessed the house fire incident which destroyed a three-bedroom concrete house. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

Vatiliai Kau, 52, a neighbour who witnessed the house fire incident which destroyed a three-bedroom concrete house. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

The children were among five people who perished in an inferno that destroyed a three bedroom house at V.M. Pillay Road in Lautoka on Sunday night.

  • Police said dead were:
  • Luisa Mathewsella, 12,
  • Sefanaia Mathewsella, 9,
  • Vilisi Hazel Ranadi, 3,
  • Telei Bavadra, 26, a Lautoka Women’s football player.
  • Unidentified victim

The sixth victim, Salaseini Tavai, 26, was in critical condition at Lautoka Hospital, last night. She is Ranadi’s mother.

The mother of the two Mathewsella children, Mere, a Fiji Airways flight attendant, was in Singapore when the tragedy happened.

She arrives back at Nadi today.

Mr Kau said: “I could not sleep last night and I kept thinking about the children.

“It was approximately11:30pm last (Sunday) night. I was just about to go to bed when I heard screaming ‘Fire, fire, please help’. I jumped out of my bed, ran to my gate, opened it and ran towards the house.

“I was the first one to arrive but the house was engulfed in flames. I ran by the side of the gate avoiding the flames and the heat that was coming, I just thought of the back door.

“As soon as I reached the backdoor, one of the women was lying just by the back door unconscious. She was burnt badly as well so I tried to hold and drag her away. She was badly burnt and her skin and flesh was coming out.

He then tried to break the window grill and by then he found two iron rods and handed one to another person.

“We tried to break the door but we couldn’t, and then we came to the back room where the children were.

“They were screaming, we were able to break the corner of the grill at the bottom. It took us almost half an hour to break the grill open. We could not break the other side of the grill. The wall of the house fell on the children.”

Mr Kau said the family had just moved to the area eight months ago.

“We did not get the chance to get to know them personally, but they were good neighbours.”

“The twin sister of Ms Tavai, Veniana Maramanitai, 26, is keeping her fingers crossed to see her once again. It is a big shock to us.”

NFA Chief Fire Officer Qionilau Moceitai said the victims were trapped behind burglar bars.

He said it was very important for home owners to install burglar bars that could be easily opened during a fire and also map out an escape route.

He also asked home owners to consider installing smoke detectors.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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