Betty’s Bay dev­as­tated by blaze

30 homes de­stroyed, 20 dam­aged, lives put on hold af­ter worst fire in 50 years

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - LUKE FOLB

PEN­SION­ERS Jo­han and Suzette de Koker built their home in Betty’s Bay in 2006. They were out shop­ping when a neigh­bour called in a panic.

“She said our garage was burn­ing. We have a wooden deck at the back which caught alight and burnt through the fire door on the garage,” said Jo­han.

The shocked cou­ple im­me­di­ately re­turned home and grabbed what be­long­ings they could.

Jo­han, 71, told how they then fled to the beach. “We went to the rocks and stayed there. We got very wet, and when some­one con­tacted us to say the fire had spread, I said it had to just burn now.”

Fires and res­cue ser­vices es­ti­mate 30 homes were de­stroyed and 20 dam­aged.

Yes­ter­day, res­i­dents re­turned to sur­vey the dam­age and sal­vage what lit­tle was left of their gut­ted homes and burnt cars and be­long­ings. Many of their lives have been left in ruins.

Fire­fight­ers have been bat­tling veld fires in Betty’s Bay and the sur­round­ing ar­eas since Fri­day.

En­tire houses, garages and ve­hi­cles were de­stroyed in what res­i­dents say is sim­i­lar to a fire that rav­aged the area 50 years ago.

Res­i­dents were evac­u­ated from the area on Fri­day be­fore re­turn­ing yes­ter­day to assess the dam­age.

Once emer­gency ser­vices al­lowed peo­ple back into the area, the cou­ple went to the nearby town of Klein­mond and stayed at the com­mu­nity cen­tre for the night where they re­ceived food.

“The struc­tural dam­age is so much that even though the whole house didn’t burn down, I would pre­fer to just to knock it down and start again,” said De Koker.

He said their woes had been ex­ac­er­bated by op­por­tunis­tic loot­ers.

“They were al­ready here at 3 this morn­ing,” he said.

Dr Granville Mar­i­nus prac­tises in Bel­lville, where he was when he got the call from his plumber who was do­ing work on his sec­ond home in Betty’s Bay.

“We’d just had a fan­tas­tic two-week hol­i­day here and we heard the fire was un­der con­trol (on Fri­day), but then things took a turn quickly,” said Mar­i­nus.

“We have no ac­cess to our front door and two of our couches burnt, along with some other pos­ses­sions.”

Mar­i­nus said his wife was quite emo­tional about the sit­u­a­tion, but he was try­ing to stay pos­i­tive despite their dif­fi­cul­ties.

“We ar­rived at around 9 on Fri­day evening and left at 2.30am back to Bel­lville be­fore we came back to­day (Satur­day).”

Mar­i­nus said he had hired a se­cu­rity guard to watch his house and re­turned to his home in Bel­lville yes­ter­day.

An­other res­i­dent, who pre­ferred to be iden­ti­fied only as Koos, lost al­most his en­tire home – which had also burnt down 50 years ago.

“We’re just find­ing all my army medals that now also have a dif­fer­ent mean­ing to me,” he said.

“I work in Robert­son and come here on the week­ends.

“My wife was here and she walked out with the clothes on her back and a cou­ple of hun­dred rand.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs MEC An­ton Bre­dell vis­ited the area yes­ter­day morn­ing.

“We couldn’t use ae­rial sup­port due to bad wind con­di­tions, and we were com­bat­ing mul­ti­ple fires in dif­fi­cult ter­rain and un­der ex­treme con­di­tions,” he said.

“One mem­ber of the pub­lic was se­ri­ously in­jured and our thoughts are with him and his fam­ily.”

Bre­dell said ef­forts would con­tinue in the area un­til all the fires had been ex­tin­guished.

| AYANDA NDAMANE African News Agency (ANA)

FAM­I­LIES were forced to evac­u­ate their homes as the fire in the Over­strand flared up on Fri­day. Res­i­dents were evac­u­ated from Her­manus, Betty’s Bay and Fran­skraal in Gans­baai and farms in the re­gion, in­clud­ing the Hemel en Aarde Es­tate and Cam­phill.

| HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

THE sea­side town of Betty’s Bay suf­fered mas­sive loss and dam­age to res­i­den­tial prop­erty af­ter a fire de­stroyed 30 homes and dam­aged 20 oth­ers.

(ANA) HENK KRUGER African News Agency

HOMES had to be evac­u­ated as the fire in the Over­strand spread and res­i­dents were forced to flee. l

African News Agency (ANA) | HENK KRUGER

GALE Brooker douses smoul­der­ing ruins at her friend’s home in Betty’s Bay.

| HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

A WOMAN speaks on her phone out­side a dou­ble-storey wooden house that burned down.

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