The Lord 'is more powerful than any fire,' says couple

In the aftermath of what South African police in Pretoria stated "was, without a doubt, the most serious fire involving a high-rise building in South Africa's history," an LDS couple relied on their faith that Heavenly Father "is more powerful than any fire."

Dave and Bertha Tyson are caretakers of the 30-story South African Agricultural Union (SAAU) in mid-town Pretoria. Recently they were in their 29th floor apartment when Sister Tyson looked out the window and saw a cloud of smoke fanning past. She called to her husband, hoping that it was not their building that was on fire.Brother Tyson, a high councilor in the Pretoria South Africa Stake, ran down the stairway from their apartment to determine the source of the fire. He soon became engaged in evacuating all occupants from the various floors and in contacting the fire brigade and rescue teams. When her husband did not return to the apartment, Sister Tyson decided to investigate herself.

The flame intensified as it jumped out of control, gutting every possible thing in its path. The police said the fire was caused by arson.

No one was killed or seriously injured. Three people were rescued from a ledge of the building by helicopters, and 30 more occupants of the building, including a housekeeper employed by the Tysons, were rescued from the roof.

As the building burned, all Sister Tyson could do was pray continually for the safety of the people and for the Tysons' apartment and all that belonged to them. Brother Tyson, who had to run up and down the staircases several times, felt there was little or no hope of saving their apartment. They slept at the home of relatives that night.

Several times during the next day, Brother Tyson climbed the stairs up and down to take engineers, electricians and others to investigate the damage. When he reached the 29th floor, he first noticed the blackened front door to their apartment. To his amazement, he found that the inside shell of the door was not burned at all. He could not believe what he saw next: All their furniture and belongings were still intact. Although covered by smoke and dirt, the apartment's furnishings were not damaged in any way. Everything else beyond their front door lay in ruins.

The fire, which leaped to the windows on the other side of the building, melted all the glass and scorched curtains, but it seemed as if the flames refused to enter the Tysons' apartment. A spare room and one storage room containing their food storage, was gutted, but, compared to what had been saved, the damage to the apartment was minimal.

Brother Tyson has been a member of the Church 21 years. In his high council assignment he serves in the Mabopane Branch and with the stake's single adult programs. He also serves on the stake's welfare committee. Sister Tyson is first counselor in the Stake Relief Society presidency and also shares responsibilities in the stake's single adult program.

Members and friends of the Tysons from Pretoria and vicinity, from Cape Town and even as far off as the United States, responded immediately with concern and with helping hands.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed