Eco-friendly farm owners 'lose everything' in Paarl wildfire

2017-01-10 13:32
Approximately 15ha of land have been destroyed on the farm, Druk My Niet. (James de Villiers, News24)

Approximately 15ha of land have been destroyed on the farm, Druk My Niet. (James de Villiers, News24)

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Cape Town - A wildfire fanned by gusting winds engulfed large sections of an eco-friendly wine farm in Paarl, destroying a manor house and buildings, some of which are more than 300 years old.

Approximately 15ha of land were destroyed on the farm, Druk My Niet, after fires broke out in Paarl in the early hours of Tuesday.  

"I don't think it's sunk in yet. This is where I work and this is my love, but I didn't lose my home. I'm devastated for the owners and the foreman and his family who have lost everything," Alexandra Mcfarlane, the winemaker on the farm, told News24.

The farm owners, Dorothee and Georg Kirchner, who went to bed around 23:00 on Monday, woke up at 00:00 when they smelled smoke.

They evacuated the area along with the foreman and his family, and no-one was harmed in the blaze.

The Kirchner's four dogs were also safely evacuated.

READ: Probe into whether devastating Cape fires were started deliberately

Vineyards damaged

Mcfarlane said the Kirchner's phoned her around 01:30 to tell her that "the whole farm was gone".

"It was a bit devastating coming here because it happened very quickly. The wind was so hectic that there was no way we could even come up here, so it was only this morning that we could see how much damage there was," Mcfarlane told News24.

She estimated that 15ha of the 20ha of farmland had been destroyed in the fire.

Apart from this, the foreman's house, the manor house, a wine cellar and two buildings that are older than 300 years were also ruined in the fire.

"I don't know if there are any existing vineyards that can be used for the new season. My Merlot hasn't seen any fire yet. But with the amount of smoke and heat that the vineyards have been exposed to, it's very difficult to say what we can do," said Mcfarlane.

The Kirchner family bought Druk My Niet in 2002, and after six years of renovations they produced their first wine in 2008.

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