Soccer coach Charles Mhlauri safe as fire guts home
UNITED States: Former Zimbabwe Warriors coach Charles Mhlauri and his family escaped unhurt Tuesday when an early morning fire engulfed their 18th-century home in Mariden, Connecticut.
Mhlauri is employed as assistant athletic director at Kimball Union Academy (KUA) – a private boarding school. KUA owns the affected property which dates back to 1790.
The coach, wife Thembi, their four children and two guests were inside the Penniman House when the fire broke out in an attached shed after 4 a.m., school head Michael Schafer said.
Everyone made it out safely.
“We are so relieved that no one was injured — including the fire department personnel and first responders, many of whom are local friends and work with our students on the KUA Fire Brigade,” Schafer told the local Valley News.
The situation could have been much worse, Meriden Fire Chief Frank Currier said adding that while the home was equipped with smoke detectors, they were “not functional” at the time of the fire, according to Currier.
At least one person inside the home was awake, smelled smoke, alerted the rest of the residents and called 911, according to Currier.
“It could have been a totally different story,” he said.
The fire is believed to have started in or around a trash can that was in a small shed that adjoins the house with a large barn.
Currier was one of the first people on the scene and said the shed and barn were fully engulfed in flames when he arrived at the home.
He said crews tried to save the front portion of the house by knocking down flames as they moved to the main living space, but the fire spiraled out of control.
“It got up in the attic and we didn’t stand a chance,” Currier said. “It was pretty much a done deal at that point.”
The Mahlauris will stay in another KUA property while officials make long-term arrangements for them, school head Schafer said.
The family has resided in the home for about 5 years. Two of the Mahlauris’ children attend area grade schools, while a third goes to KUA. Their oldest child graduated from KUA and is in college, Schafer said.
“Right now, their emotional safety and the uneasiness of the dislocation and distress are first and foremost our concern,” Schafer said.
“Many in the town have already reached out to offer assistance; we are so fortunate to be in such caring school and extended communities.”