Community steps in after family’s loss

UP IN FLAMES: Firefighters try to battle the flames as the Holloways home is destroyed on November 9. Picture: CAROL WATHEN

An East London family who lost everything last week when their new home was gutted by a fire, have received an outpouring of support from residents across the city to try help them get back on their feet.

Baysville School of Skills teacher Kristin Holloway, her husband, four children and her mother, were asleep in their home in Sunrise-on-Sea on the morning of November 9, when she heard the loud crash of windows breaking.

Believing an intruder had broken into the house, Kristin said she rushed downstairs to investigate.

She was greeted instead with the sight of raging flames engulfing her son’s bedroom and spreading rapidly through their beautiful six-bedroom wooden house.

The Holloways had barely enough time to make it out of the house before everything they owned, and loved, including the family Yorkie, was lost to the flames. Their car was also destroyed.

By the time the firefighters arrived, the house had been reduced to ash.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

The family had only spent three days in their new home before it was destroyed.

They had moved into the home to start their new life caring for Kristin’s elderly mother, after Kristin’s father died in December 2022. Sadly, they have now also lost their home and a lifetime worth of belongings.

They are staying in a holiday home which someone has generously opened up to them for the next few weeks.

The Holloway’s said despite the tragedy, the outpouring of support from the East London community had been a source of strength for them from the minute they escaped the flames.

Kristin said: “This experience leaves you feeling so completely helpless in a way that resembles nothing else you have faced before.

“When you have lost everything you’ve ever had, you reach your hand out for any help that is offered, no matter how proud you are.

“I have four children looking up to me to provide them with safety after the tragedy they have just gone through and that is scary, but the people of East London, and even further, have stepped up and held us with their support and kept us going.

“Their concern for us has made us realise we are so fortunate because we could have lost our lives.

“By the time we managed to get outside the house, there were people from the community already outside waiting to assist.

“People started bringing us clothes and shoes almost immediately because we ran out with only what we had on, and the generosity extended to us hasn’t stopped since.

“We feel really blessed by the support we have been given from the community, it’s so amazing and I can’t even put the depth of my gratitude into words.”

On November 26, East Coast Boyz, in association with the Kwelera Ski Boat Club, will be hosting a fundraiser for the family with local band Can of Worms, along with several other bands.

It will be held at the club, starting at 1pm, and entry is free. There will be braai packs on sale, a cash bar and fun group activities.

Another East London family, pensioners Jojo and Neville Kurton, from Milner Estate on Moffat Road, have been waiting for almost two years for a temporary shelter and assistance after their home went up in flames in July 2021.

The Kurton’s said that in 15 minutes their whole house was engulfed in flames. They lost everything.

Neville, who was wounded and had a stroke due to the fire, lost his leg and is paralysed on one side of his body.

A tearful Jojo said she gone to the municipality every month since the fire to get assistance for a shelter but to no avail.

“They promised me in the first week after the fire that I would have a shelter, but nothing materialised of this, and it’s been two years.

“Despite the entire house being destroyed, the municipality still billed me for water and electricity until recently.

“It feels like I am going to pass away before we get any kind of help from the municipality or the community.”

Councillor Sue Bentley, who has been trying to assist the Kurtons, said any support would be welcomed, especially basic necessities and shelter.

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