Retired couple loses everything in Pringle Bay fire

2017-02-22 11:49
Eckhard Willemse talks to neighbours at his burnt out house. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Eckhard Willemse talks to neighbours at his burnt out house. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – "My husband had 53 shirts and now he's got just two," Eileen Willemse, whose house was destroyed in a raging wildfire in Pringle Bay on Monday night, told Netwerk24.

The fire, which broke out on Monday afternoon, was under control by Tuesday and is being monitored.

Willemse said that she and her husband, Eckhard, had lost everything in the fire.

"I went to see if there was anything that I could salvage, but there is nothing. All that's left are my son's expensive cookbooks. My jewellery, clothes and my late mother-in-law's paintings are gone.

"When we left the house, we'd only taken the necessary, such as important documents, IDs and a few items of clothing."

The retired couple has been living in Pringle Bay for 16 years. At the moment, they are staying with their son Morné, who also lives in Pringle Bay.

"It took us seven years to build the house and our whole family had helped. We put heart and soul into the house. Now there is nothing left to show for the past 16 years," Willemse said.

Ashes 'all that's left'

Eckhard said he'd seen the smoke from the approaching wildfire and had gone to investigate. He then told his wife that they had to pack their essentials and leave.

"We just packed the essentials and left. This is the first time I've seen the house after the fire. We'd thought the fire would pass our house. We hadn't been aware of the fact that the house was burning.

"The smoke was too thick to see if anything was happening. One of our friends came to see if there was anything he could salvage, but it was too hot and he also came away empty-handed.

"Someone earlier asked me: 'Aren't you scared that someone will steal something from the house?' But what can they steal? Do they want to pick up ashes? That's all that's left," Eckhard said.

The Willemses are amazed that only their house was destroyed.

"We are very surprised that we are the only ones affected. Nothing happened to the houses around us."

Eckhard said although they were insured, and could start over again, it would not be the same.

"One gets money to buy new things and start all over again, but I would rather have the old stuff than what's happened to us now."

The Willemses' home in Pringle Bay after the fire. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Read more on:    western cape  |  fires

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