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)

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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. 


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