Lightning sets thatched-roof house ablaze

A Knoppieslaagte community pulled together at the weekend and helped save belongings worth thousands of rands when a double-storey thatched roof house was struck by lightning and caught fire.

Trevor and Jenny Smith were at home on Saturday night at their smallholding, which houses several families, when a lightning bolt struck their roof, setting the house ablaze.

"I saw a blue light run across the floor. My one dog, Floyd, was lying against the wall and was slightly shocked. We managed to calm him and ourselves down before going back to bed," said Smith.

About 15 minutes later the couple were woken to the screams of neighbours telling them that their house was on fire.

"It was amazing how everyone pulled together to help. There must have been 20 people running in and out trying to salvage what we could. The adrenaline was rushing. Three guys managed to move a huge piano which on a normal day would probably have taken six," Trevor said.

Fire-fighters were on the scene within minutes, he added.

Despite saving "about 90 percent" of the Smiths' possessions, Trevor said some personal items were destroyed and they could never be replaced.

"My wife is a very good bowls player and she lost a lot of certificates. Her sewing room is upstairs and we could not save all her equipment. That alone is worth about R40 000. My office upstairs was also destroyed and some of our personal documents were lost," he said.

Smith was, however, grateful to be alive. "Luckily all the stuff lost is only material. We are committed Christians and believe everything will work out," he said.

The owner of the property from whom the Smiths rent has promised to help them out and a flat is becoming available on Tuesday on the smallholding for them to move into.

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on January 10, 2005

Article By: Cindy Zeilhofer