Somerset West fires ravage 40% of historic wine estate

2017-01-04 16:39
Richard Bosman with a baby buck which was saved.  (James de Villiers, News24)

Richard Bosman with a baby buck which was saved. (James de Villiers, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


We can't say the fires are under control - emergency services in Somerset West

2017-01-04 15:56

News24 spoke to emergency fire and rescue personnel on the ground in Somerset West on Wednesday, where ongoing fires have ravaged the surrounding veld and threatened residential areas. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town – Large areas of vegetation and vineyards at Somerset West's historic and award-winning Vergelegen Estate have been destroyed by wildfires, farm manager Don Tooth said on Wednesday.

"Of the 3 000ha of the farm, 40% has burned down this far," Tooth told News24.

"No buildings have thankfully burned down. All our hospitality areas are operating as normal."

The fires have been burning in the Helderberg Mountains since Tuesday.

According to Tooth, the wildfires could be brought under control by nightfall.

"If the current weather conditions continue, and the wind doesn't pick up, we will have the fire under control by the end of the day."

Teams were battling the flames on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains.

According to the Vergelegen Estate’s website, it was the three-time winner of the Great Wine Capitals Global Best of Wine Tourism Award.

'The railway line is completely burnt out'

Meanwhile, the head of City of Cape Town's fire services, Ian Schnetler, told News24 that the fires were still out of control. 

"As you can see, the fire is picking up," Schnetler said from his bakkie at a firefighter meeting point along Sir Lowry’s Pass.

"We are concentrating on the N2 and the fires near Lourensford farm."

The worst fires were near Lourensford, on the side of the Helderberg Mountains.

Schnetler sat alongside the City of Cape Town's executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman. In his lap he had a baby buck that they had saved from the flames.

On Tuesday evening, volunteers evacuated several animals, including 18 horses, from the area.

A News24 reader living in Rome Glen, Marz Socks, said railroad tracks next to the Boskloof residential estate had been rendered unusable due to the fires. 

"We discovered that the railway line is completely burnt out. Giant blue gum trees collapsed over the tracks. The sleeper wood is burnt out. The railway line is going to be unusable for a long time," Socks said. 


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.


12 Cool cat facts

Here are some surprising things you may not know about your fascinating feline



Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Watch: Proof animals have souls
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.