Ryk Neethling takes on winelands fire

2013-01-30 08:20
Ryk Neethling. (Johann Hattingh)

Ryk Neethling. (Johann Hattingh)

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Paarl - Swimming legend Ryk Neethling has described how he helped fight fires in the Cape Winelands on Monday night, getting little sleep and at one point finding himself “in the middle of a bunch of fires”.

Neethling, who is the marketing manager at the upmarket Val de Vie polo estate in Paarl, told the Times Live that he felt helpless as he watched the fires raging out of control on neighbouring farms.

The fire at one point reached the Val de Vie perimeter fence, sending estate officials scrambling to stop the flames from coming closer.

“We pretty much did not sleep, neither did the firefighters, nor the farmers. Everyone came out with their tractors and water tanks.

“It was a community effort. There are a lot of farms that completely burned down. People just had to try to save the old homesteads," he said.

Neethling said the fire was “scary”.

"It's unbelievable how powerful it was, especially with the winds. At one stage, I was in the middle of a bunch of fires.

“The fire almost created its own wind. You are completely defenceless. There is nothing you can do but wait."

Val de Vie management reassured residents that there were enough resources on the estate to protect houses and property.

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