Heartfelt tale of fiery loss
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