'It looked like lava' - trailer park manager on Overberg fire

2016-01-18 17:58
Ampie Wentzel. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Ampie Wentzel. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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WATCH: Langa residents forced to make quick decisions as fire ravages homes

2016-01-13 11:02

Strong winds and limited water access fuelled a fire in Langa, leaving residents homeless.WATCH

Cape Town - It was a miracle that a fire stopped barely metres from the main building of the Old Mac Daddy luxury trailer park in Elgin Valley, a staff member said on Monday.

Though a deck and vegetation was destroyed, maintenance manager Ampie Wentzel, 42, said on Monday they had been very lucky to escape almost unscathed on Saturday.

"It looked like lava," he told News24 of that day, pointing at the charred vista where thick smoke still billowed in the distance.

Wentzel, who has been working at the trailer park for five years, said strong winds turned the fire back towards their plot later that day.

Guests at a wedding taking place at the venue had to be evacuated just after the bride and groom managed to say "I do", but they had to forgo their reception.

As the fire approached once more, Wentzel immediately jumped into action, helping to douse the flames along with fellow farmers and farmworkers’ children who had come to assist.

Standing on a deck at the lodge, he pointed to trees just a few metres away. They were around five metres high. "The fire was just there and I grabbed a hosepipe. The flames were as tall as that pine tree. We were surrounded on all sides."

Bride was crying

He wiped his eyes with a wet cloth and coughed at times as he recalled the drama.

Lower down the hill, the fire swept around the dam and towards a trailer on the water’s edge. Wentzel gathered all the guests who were there for a wedding and made sure they were evacuated.

"I jumped into the water with a bucket and started throwing water over the fence," he said.

Thanks to their efforts, they managed to keep the blaze metres away from the white picket fence surrounding the trailer.

Staff member Rowena Hansen said a bridal couple managed to say "I do" about 30 minutes before the fire swept back in. Their plans for a reception were dashed.

"The bride was so sad she just started crying," added Wentzel.

He said he couldn’t be scared because his boss was relying on him. "The main point was just to save the lot."

The fire destroyed a deck a short distance away that was to be used for a future project.

Hansen said they hoped to re-open their establishment to guests on Wednesday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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