THREE children from Tsholotsho were burnt beyond recognition while four others were saved by their 12-year-old sibling after a fire gutted a room they were sleeping in while their parents attended a funeral wake.
The incident, which happened at around 10PM on Saturday in Nkunzi Village, about 50 kilometres from Tsholotsho Centre, saw property worth tens of thousands of dollars reduced to ashes.
The hero, Prolific Bhebhe (12) was awakened by smoke that was choking her and realised the house where all eight of them slept, was ablaze.
She managed to awaken and lead outside four of her siblings who escaped without injuries.
When she returned to save the remaining three, the inferno had blocked her way to where they slept and she failed to save them.
Villagers identified the deceased victims as Lindiwe Tshuma (10), Charmer Tshuma (8) and Prosperous Tshuma (6).
Kwandile Bhebhe (12), Nkazimulo Bhebhe (2), Roland Tshuma (12) and Principal Tshuma (8) escaped uninjured.
Mrs Judith Dube lost two children while her daughter-in-law Concillia Moyo (34) lost one child.
The area’s councillor, Motha Bhebhe, said the 12-year old girl noticed the house was on fire after she was awakened by smoke.
“She managed to wake up four of her siblings and took them outside but unfortunately by the time she tried to save the last three, the fire had grown big and blocked her way. She failed to proceed to where they slept and they died in their sleep.
“The children’s screams awoke neighbours but by the time they rushed to the scene, the fire was already fierce and they all failed to save the three children. Villagers said by the time they approached the gate, the roof of the whole house had caved in amid a shower of sparks,” he said.
Cllr Bhebhe said all the furniture was in flames, showing that the fire had already been raging for a long period and villagers could not enter the blazing house to get to the children who were trapped inside.
“Villagers used sand to try and put out the fire while others ran with buckets full of water but all efforts to put out the fire were futile as it had already consumed everything in the hut.
“That room was full of property and its clear the fire had started a long time ago. It burnt property to ashes before the children noticed,” he said.
The bodies were taken to Tsholotsho District Hospital enroute to Bulawayo for postmortem.
Cllr Bhebhe said it was high time Tsholotsho Rural District Council owned a fire tender as fires continued to wreak havoc in the district.
In September 2015, two children from Dikili Village in Tsholotsho died in an inferno after a fire gutted a room they were sleeping in while their mother was allegedly having a tryst with a boyfriend.
Property worth thousands of dollars was destroyed.