I’ve lost my whole life - owner of luxury lodge destroyed by Western Cape fires

2017-01-05 18:11
Bezweni Lodge was burnt in the fire that ravaged the Somerset West area. (Herman van den Berg Facebook)

Bezweni Lodge was burnt in the fire that ravaged the Somerset West area. (Herman van den Berg Facebook)

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Cape Town - The owner of the Bezweni Lodge, located on the mountain slopes in the Sir Lowry's Pass area, says his only belongings not destroyed by a wildfire, which completely gutted the opulent establishment on Tuesday, are the clothes he was wearing and items in his pockets.

"I’ve lost my whole life. I lived in a flat at the back of the buildings, so I have lost passports, ID books, cups, photos, jewellery... everything," an emotional Peter Weideman told News24 on Thursday morning.

"I walked out with only the clothes on my back, my wallet in my pocket, and my cellphone. It will take months, if not years, to rebuild."

The four-star lodge was completely destroyed by a wildfire, one of several that spread in the Somerset West area on Tuesday morning.

By Thursday morning, the blazes had been brought under control.

Weideman said that the lodge was insured.

"We are busy talking to insurance companies," he said.

"I don't know for sure, but the damage is definitely within the millions."

The fires broke out during the peak tourist season.

READ: Western Cape fires finally under control

'Everything has burnt down'

Weideman said that they had to rush to find alternative accommodation for guests heading to Bezweni Lodge.

"There were fortunately no guests in the lodge on the day and we had to scramble to find accommodation for them," he said.

"I am currently going through bookings for the next few weeks, six months, informing guests that the lodge has burnt down, and trying to find alternative bookings for guests or refund them. Guests have already booked airplane tickets, so we can’t just cancel their reservations."

A News24 team was turned away from the burnt out Bezweni Lodge on Wednesday after looting at the site apparently took place.

"Yes, there were people trying to steal the copper, but there is really nothing left. Everything has burnt down," Weideman said.

He believes that this week's fires may have stemmed from blazes which broke out the previous week.

"There might have been hotspots left over from fires in Grabouw and they might have just caught flame again."

Weideman said he is grateful for the support he had received so far.

"The community has really been great. We have received several phone calls and messages from other guest houses in the area. Third party people, such as booking websites, have also phoned to see how they can assist," he said.

Friends had offered to accommodate Weideman because his home was destroyed.

"I am currently staying with friends while I am coming to grips with the extent of damage," he said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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