Firework flying through open window has left our flat in ruins, says Brixton family

A family “lost everything” when a firework flew through an open window and started a blaze that destroyed their flat.

Jonathan Kabesha, 41, was at home in Brixton with his wife and three of their children — including a baby daughter — when the rocket came through the fourth-storey window. It set fire to curtains and spread quickly, forcing the family to flee. 

However, Mr Kabesha made a split-second decision to run back inside to turn off the gas cooker and avert what he said “could have been a disaster”.

The flat, which was their home for 13 years, is now a burnt-out shell and all their possessions are destroyed.

Mr Kabesha said: “I have lost everything. My family are traumatised. It’s really affected the children and they say they don’t want to ever go back to live there. No one knows what’s happened but all I can ask is why us?”

Mr Kabesha braved the flames to turn off a gas cooker and prevent an explosion (Nigel Howard)

The family are now in temporary accommodation in Thornton Heath, and Lambeth council has said it will rehouse them.

Mr Kabesha was watching televised hymns with 17-month-old Tabitha and son Emmanuel, five, while his wife Wivine and daughter Eunice, 12, were cooking in the kitchen when the firework shot through the window on Sunday last week. He said he heard “a really loud bang” and within two minutes the whole dining room was on fire.

After the family had left the flat, his wife, a care assistant at King’s College Hospital, realised that the gas hob was still burning, so Mr Kabesha ran back in to turn off the cooker.

He said: “I felt I had a duty to my community to make sure there was not a gas explosion … I ran inside, ran to the kitchen and then ran outside again. By that point the fire had spread and I could feel it on my back.

“The fire brigade told me the fire was doubling in size every two seconds.”

Mr Kabesha has been in touch with Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes about the incident.

The council said it would repair the flat and work with the family to either return there, or secure a similar property in the borough.

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said: “Forty per cent of the house was damaged in the fire. Two fire engines from Brixton station attended. We are running an investigation alongside the police.

“We believe this could be the first firework incident to have caused a significant house fire this season.”
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