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Experts to probe blaze

By Mhlaba Memela and Canaan Mdletshe | Feb 11, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

FORENSIC experts from Pretoria arrived at the Ingogo Hope in Christ Orphanage in Newcastle yesterday to establish the cause of the blaze that left 11 people dead on Tuesday.

The devastated community in the rural village banded together to help the survivors and mourn the death of a woman who died a hero, saving others.

Many wept openly outside the ruins of a home that once housed the abandoned, the sick and homeless.

Eleven people perished in the fire while nine survived.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the fire might have been caused by a gas explosion.

Yesterday community members were rallying to provide aid and support for the survivors.

Police spokeperson Phindile Radebe said a police team of fire experts arrived at the home yesterday morning.

"The team will be there until they complete their investigations," she said.

Seven survivors, including six children, are still being treated in Newcastle Hospital.

Among the dead was Sarah Holland - whom locals refer to as "mother and angel" - her son Michael, his daughter Nicole and twin sons Joshua and Justin.

Holland died with a baby in her arms after helping all the other survivors.

Holland had turned her home into a haven for orphans and the homeless. Some of the children and adults came from outside Newcastle to seek help.

A heartbroken Arthur Nolte described the death of his sister and family as a tragedy.

"I was on my way from Cape Town when I received the shocking news, and I could not believe it because I had just spoken to her on Friday," he said.

"She will be sorely missed by the people she dedicated her life to," he said.

Neighbour Nomusa Sithole said Holland started a crèche to assist the community.

"Due to demand she changed it to an orphanage," she said, adding that the community was still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

Sithole said Holland helped everybody by providing food, clothes and toys.


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