Church fire in White River – no answers yet

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Thousands of rands of damage was done to the building in which Neon Church was housed.

Man dies in inferno

Adriaan de Beer and Masoka Dube

IT IS all gone, everything they had at the Neon Church outside White River, went up in smoke. So says the church’s pastor, Danie van Wyk, who spoke to NEWSHORN after a fire that ripped through the church last Tuesday, leaving one person dead.The fire caused damages estimated at more than R400 000, Van Wyk said, but could even be more.

Earlier reports stated that a man burnt to death inside the church, but this was denied by the pastor. He said a body was found at the ground floor of the building, while the church is on the second floor.

“Everything we had at the church has been destroyed by the blaze. We are now stranded, we don’t even know where are we going to hold our prayer sessions,” Van Wyk said.

Meanwhile, it is still unclear what caused the fire. The building housing the church and other business caught fire shortly after 6pm, according to eyewitnesses.

Mbombela acting fire chief, Petrus Mthiyane, confirmed that the charred remains of a man was found inside the building.

“When we arrived at the scene we have found that the blaze was huge. We were told that there was a man trapped inside, when we found him he was already dead,” he said.

According to Mthiyane it is still not clear what caused the fire, but the police are investigating. The church and other businesses housed at the building were badly affected.

Pastoor Danie van Wyk of Neon Church.

Van Wyk was saddened by the death of the man and said he would like to send his condolences to the man’s family, on behalf of his congregation.

Mpumalanga police spokesman, Sergeant Gerald Sedibe, said the police were investigating the incident.

“The docket of inquest has been opened after the body of the man was found. We are trying to establish more information as he was burnt beyond recognition. At this stage, we are not aware what caused the fire,” Sedibe said.

People must make sure that petrol, gas or any material that might ignite and cause fire are kept in a safe place, Mthiyane added. Children must be also taught about the danger of playing with electric appliances.

Mthiyane warned that causes for fires include the use of counterfeit plugs, over plugging, the illegal connection of electricity and other related issues.

“Inflammable material must be kept at a safe place and not in the main building.”

The building used to house Kokopelli and various other small businesses before the church opened there three years ago.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.