The staff and owners of The Knock Shop in Cawood Street, Makhanda, are safe after a fire destroyed the furniture shop and all its contents this afternoon, Wednesday November 29. Quick action by the Makana Fire Services prevented the fire from spreading to surrounding structures in the densely built area.
Sue Reynolds, who owns Suzi-Q toy and school supply shop in High Street, just around the corner from The Knock Shop, described the scene.
“Someone shouted that there was a fire and I went around the corner to see what was happening,” Reynolds said. “There was smoke everywhere and there were flames literally leaping out of the doorway.”
She quickly alerted emergency services.
“The fire department was there very quickly.” she said.
But fuelled by a shop-floor-full of wooden furniture, the blaze was huge and seemed unstoppable.
“There was smoke coming from the flat adjoining the building,” Reynolds said. She phone that building’s owner, and together with others who came to help, made sure everyone in the area knew about the threat. Then Reynolds focused on her shop.
“I had just got in 37 boxes of school supplies stock, ahead of our back to school drive, and once we’d made sure [the owners] and the staff were okay, we frantically started moving our stock out of the shop.”
The area comprises a cluster of old buildiings. Historically, they are part of a single compound, and so are very close together.
The owners of nearby businesses offered transport, storage space and general support.
“Everyone helped – it was amazing,” Reynolds said. “But I still can’t believe how quickly a situation can turn from normal to an emergency. I am going to a church braai now,” she said, “and I am going to be saying a very thankful prayer.”
Hi-Tec Security said Cawood Street had been closed off until follow-up fire fighting operations had been completed.
Makana Fire Services manager William Welkom confirmed that no one was injured.
“However, all the contents of the building were destroyed,” Welkom said. He said there was no information about a suspected cause at this stage.
The Knock Shop opened in a single room in New Street, Makhanda, in 1990. After expanding within that building, they moved to bigger premises in Cobden Street in 2013 before moving into the Cawood Street premises. Alongside new beds and furniture, they buy and sell antiques, vintage pieces and collectibles.