More Wine estates, properties destroyed as Cape fires rage on

2017-01-18 08:34 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - Fires in the Cape Winelands have wreaked havoc over the past three weeks, as over hundreds of Western Cape firefighters have been working around the clock to minimise damage. 

In some cases, the forces of nature were too strong to hold off. 

Calais Wine Estate

Most recently, on 17 January, Calais Wine Estate outside Paarl was affected by the fires when the farm's 1692 Calais Manor House was burnt. 

Although the walls of the structure was still standing, the thatched roof and wooden elements were completely destroyed. 

"The fire in the Paarl area is being fanned by strong wind and several properties remain at risk," the provincial public works department said in a statement on Tuesday.

At least 200 firefighters struggled to contain the fire, assisted by two helicopters as well as two helicopters from the Defence Force.

The blaze started on Monday on the slopes of the Du Toitskloof pass.

For Wednesday, 18 January, another hot and windy day has been forecast in the Paarl valley, which could fan flames and hamper firefighting efforts. 

SEE: Weather Update: Extreme high fire dangers continue along with Cape fires

Firefighters, on Tuesday, were attending to 19 fires across the Western Cape, while still trying to put out the Paarl fire which was "out of control". 

Apart from Paarl, fires were burning on the Cape Peninsula, West Coast, and in the Cape Winelands, the provincial public works department said in a statement.

Wildfires also damaged several homes in Vredehoek and Oranjezight on Monday night and in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 

SEE: ALERT: Cape Town fire closes Deer Park

Since the start of the New Year, wildfires has been plaguing the Western Cape. Here are some of the major wine farms and properties that suffered damage. 

Augusta Kleinbosch & Druk My Niet 

Two guest farm structures in Paarl were destroyed last week when different fires rages through the Paarl region, also fueled by strong winds and high temperatures. 

The main house and restaurant at Augusta Kleinbosch guest farm were burnt down, as well as structures on Druk My Niet wine farm and self-catering cottages. The restaurant at Augusta Kleinbosch was also destroyed. 

Alexandra Mcfarlane, the winemaker and viticulturist at Druk-My-Niet Wine Estate told SAPeople that the “devastating fire swept through our farm and destroyed our vineyards, cellar and houses. 

"The owners and foreman and family have been displaced and have lost everything…”

Photos from the fires show the historic buildings ablaze.

SEE: PICS: Fires consume historic buildings in Paarl

Last week Tuesday, over 150 Western Cape firefighters managed to contain the Paarl fire, after it destroyed over 650 hectares of vegetation and historic buildings

Bezweni Lodge  

In Sir Lowry’s Pass Village in Somerset West, the four-star Bezweni Lodge was burnt down on 3 January. 

Photos show the property's thatched roof and parts of the structure of the property aflame. The day after the fire, lodge manager Peter Weideman posted a video of what was left of the lodge... 

WATCH: Bezweni Lodge burnt down in devastating Somerset West fires

The City of Cape Town's fire head, Ian Schnetler said that blazes on the slopes of the Helderberg mountains, burnt down the Bezweni lodge and damaged more than 600 hectares. 

Lourensford Wine Estate  

At Lourensfort Wine Estate, where the same Helderberg fire was raging since the first week of January, firefighters contained the blaze only after major damage. 

Structures on the property was damaged, along with hectares of vegetation. The property dedicated their weekly market to donating to the Volunteer Wildfire Services in the Western Cape. 

The donation drive and auction supporting the VWS and several other firefighting associations and raised over R25 000 on the day. 

Goudini Spa 

In the Badberg Mountains, where a raging fire was contained on Wednesday, 11 January, guests staying at the popular Goudini Spa in the Slanghoek Valley had to evacuated. 

Fire services were on the scene already battling the blaze on a number of the buildings and rondawels on the property, some of which burnt down. 

Last week Vergelegen Wines also reported over 40% of its 3 000 ha farm had burnt in the fires. Fortunately, no buildings were damaged.

For Wednesday, 18 January, the South African Weather Service forecast more extremely high fire dangers in the Western Cape.  

Weather Update: Extreme high fire dangers continue along with Cape fires

Authorities suspect, however, that some of the fires are acts of arson. Investigators have been deployed to probe the cause of devastating fires within the City of Cape Town, which amount to over 4 500 since November last year. 

This means that Cape Town firefighters have responded to an average of 75 fires a day over a period of two-and-a-half months.

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