Heart­felt tale of fiery loss

Talk of the Town - - News - DR GLENDA HICKS

It was a good turnout at Set­tlers Park for the U3A meet­ing last Thurs­day when Crys­tal Carelse spoke of the emo­tional and phys­i­cal losses she had en­dured dur­ing the Knysna fires in June last year.

Carelse lost ev­ery­thing ex­cept the clothes she was wear­ing and the car she es­caped in. Her pain was ev­i­dent as she spoke and, from the au­di­ence’s re­ac­tion, many of them em­pathised with the pain of her losses.

Carelse has a baby grand­son, now only a year old, and she mourned that she could never, for ex­am­ple, share pho­tos of his mother’s child­hood with him. She had many pho­to­graphs to show, in­clud­ing one of a young cou­ple with their tod­dler who were killed by smoke in­hala­tion and were found cling­ing to each other. The young mother was heav­ily preg­nant.

The large, at­trac­tive home where Carelse lived was com­pletely razed to the ground and her vivid de­scrip­tion of what hap­pened in­cluded how, be­cause of the oxy­gen bot­tles at­tached to the walls of the hos­pi­tal, it had to be en­tirely va­cated.

Port Al­fred an­i­mal lovers were hor­ri­fied to see pho­to­graphs of a badly burnt horse that ar­rived back home when it was safe, as well as the ba­boons starv­ing af­ter their food source was com­pletely burnt away.

“It was a dis­as­ter of ma­jor pro­por­tions,” said Carelse. “May it never hap­pen again.”

As she ex­pected, her in­sur­ance com­pany ar­gued about the losses she claimed. Her ad­vice was to make sure every­one was in­sured for re­build­ing costs, not only re­place­ment cost.

Carelse is now liv­ing in Port Al­fred and her restau­rant, Harry B’s at the Port Al­fred Ski-boat Club, is flour­ish­ing and pro­vides an el­e­ment of com­fort to ease the pain of her losses.

RAG­ING DE­STRUC­TION: A pic­ture of 2017’s dev­as­tat­ing Knysna fires which Crys­tal Carlse, in­sert, sur­vived. How­ever, her home and all its con­tents were de­stroyed. Carlse spoke of her or­deal at the U3A meet­ing last Thurs­day

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