ERWIN Kruger, the father of three-year-old Pippie, confessed to being plagued by guilt following the tragic accident that left his daughter with most of her tiny body burnt.
Kruger and his wife, Anice, could not hide their relief and gratitude yesterday when they visited Dr Alan Barrett of Genzyme, who was closely involved in the process of getting Pippie a skin transplant.
Erwin said yesterday: "Most definitely [I went through a period of self-loathing], because I lit the fire and you do blame yourself in the beginning.
"But, as you go on, you understand that it was just a freak accident - that's all. It is something that was not supposed to happen, but it happened."
Anice said she supported Erwin, despite people accusing him of being "jealous", and of intentionally setting young Pippie on fire, claiming he was not her biological father, even though he is.
Anice said: "The question most people ask is if I blame my husband, and I hadn't thought about it until they asked me. But there is no way I can blame him. It was a freak accident."
Barrett said yesterday the parents faced a long road ahead, despite the success of the operation.
He said the toddler's muscles had "wasted away", and she would have to be taught to speak and move from scratch. She had been in hospital since a gel firelighter exploded in her father's hands during a family braai in December.