Family lost everything in fire - but they just want mom back

07 March 2019 - 14:25 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Marcus Ehlers recovering in hospital after desperately trying to pull his wife of 21 years from the flames that razed their home.
Marcus Ehlers recovering in hospital after desperately trying to pull his wife of 21 years from the flames that razed their home.

Marcus Ehlers and his two children survived a devastating fire at their home and lost everything - including their wife and mother Lisa. 

She succumbed to the fire when she was trapped in the inferno that destroyed their home last Thursday, leaving Marcus and his two children destitute.

"I would like my wife back but no one can help me with that. It's very difficult starting off when you've lost everything," Ehlers told TimesLIVE in a telephonic interview from his hospital bed.

The father of the two teenagers says it will be difficult to pick up the pieces.

He spoke about the family's last meal together on Wednesday. Just hours later Lisa would be dead and their home and everything they owned, including their pets, gone up in smoke.  

Marcus and Lisa Ehlers
Marcus and Lisa Ehlers
Image: Louisette Visagie via Facebook

"Lisa, the kids and I went to bed about 9.30pm, only to wake up early Thursday with the entire place in flames.

"My son and I jumped out of the window and ran for the fire extinguishers but couldn't get to them.

"Lisa was trapped inside and I went back to get her," he said.

He managed to get her to safety but both suffered severe burns in the process. The children were unharmed.

The couple was taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto.

"I am still being treated. It's very sore. My wounds make up 30% of my body - my wife's burns were more than that," Marcus said, his voice trembling and barely audible.  

He said he was heartbroken. He had clung on to the hope that she would survive.

Many people have taken to social media to share the family's tragedy in a bid to get donations to help them find a new home, and to buy groceries along with other basic necessities.

"We lost everything," Marcus said. "My wife, the dogs, furniture, clothes, my children’s books, IDs, passports, everything. Everything was in shambles."

The house was a wooden cabin in Eikenhof, south of Johannesburg. The deadly blaze is believed to have been sparked by an electrical fault.

"There was no escape door, the fire extinguishers were expired. It was just a mess," he said.

His wish list is simple: a bed, a table and a few chairs.

Family friend Stan Poslovsky is helping.

"I am trying to help as much I can. What happened was tragic, especially because there are children involved," said Poslovsky. 

Nonprofit organisation The Angel Network is also involved.

"Every little contribution, whether it may be funding or materials, will be forever appreciated," the organisation said. 

"This family has lost everything and sadly there was no insurance."