Caretaking – a smoky, hot job

2017-01-31 06:01

A local caretaker has been heralded as a hero by his employers, after he saved their wedding venue from burning to the ground during recent wildfires in Simon’s Town.

The blaze destroyed all vegetation around the property, leaving it standing as a lush circle in the middle of a barren landscape.

Elias Sidhuna was at the Blue Horizons wedding venue on the morning of Wednesday 11 January when he noticed dark smoke moving towards the venue. Ashes began falling into the property and he tried to wet the buildings and gardens with a hosepipe.

The fire then jumped from the mountain slopes on the opposite side of the road, causing fencing on the property to catch alight.

Co-owner and general manager Naas Coetzee says he was trapped at the bottom of Red Hill Road, prevented from getting to the venue by firefighters, and convinced Sidhuna was in grave danger.

“I tried to get in but wasn’t allowed to by the firefighters. I phoned Elias and just told him to run,” he says. “I was just concerned about getting Elias out. In hindsight, it was the best place for him.”

Sidhuna initially fled the property, but returned shortly after.

“At first I ran away, but when I saw the flames had passed, I ran back. I saw there were lots of small flames and the trees had caught alight. I ran around with the hosepipe to kill the flames coming toward the building,” he says.

The flames damaged several trees and a section of ground at the back of the property. It also damaged wooden fencing.

“I was scared,” says Sidhuna. “The fire didn’t die easily. It kept rising again and I had to run up and down for up to six hours. The firefighters were following the big flame, but I had to kill the small flames left behind.”

Sidhuna was helped by two volunteer firefighters and a photographer to keep the flames at bay, says co-owner Tracy Coetzee.

“It’s business as usual for us, and it’s only thanks to the bravery of these men. Elias was trapped on the property and between fighting the fire we were getting blow-by-blow accounts as to what was happening from him on his cellphone. It was nerve-wracking as fire services prevented us from accessing the road leading to the property.”

The venue has weddings booked every weekend until April, Naas explains, with the potential loses, that could have resulted from more damage, staggering.

Naas adds: “We call [Sidhuna] a hero. It gives a new meaning behind the venue. It could have easily burnt down and taken months to rebuild.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.


Fascinating facts about dogs

Think you know a lot about dogs? How many of these facts do you know?



Perfectly captured cat snapchats!
Fascinating facts about dogs
Out with the old dog, in with the new
Play with your pet when you're not at home
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.