‘We’d love to build it up again’

2018-03-22 13:30
Father and son owners of Midlands Campworld and Safari Centre, Don and Bryce Lund inspect the damage after fire gutted the building on Tuesday night.

Father and son owners of Midlands Campworld and Safari Centre, Don and Bryce Lund inspect the damage after fire gutted the building on Tuesday night. (Ian Carbutt)

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The owners of the Midlands Campworld and Safari Centre say losses incurred during Tuesday night’s raging fire could run into the millions of rands.

At about 8 pm on Tuesday the store, which has been a fixture in the Scottsville area for more than 30 years, was engulfed by flames.

Firefighters worked until the early hours of Wednesday morning to douse the blaze, which completely gutted the shop and its adjacent workshop. They managed to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to the adjacent petrol station.

Residents told The Witness at the scene on Tuesday night that the blaze was like a fireworks display, and they could hear the sound of gas canisters exploding intermittently.

Investigators from the Msunduzi fire brigade and the shop’s staff and owners on Wednesday combed through the rubble searching for possible clues as to the cause of the blaze, as well as for whatever items could be salvaged.

The owners were visibly dejected as they looked at the site where the burned down shop stood.

A thick layer of soot coated several incinerated caravans, trolleys, camping gear and exploded gas canisters.

About 25 caravans, including a rental fleet and customers’ caravans ready for pick-up, which were outside the shop, were not damaged.

The main shop, which was a wooden structure with a corrugated iron roof, went up in flames, as well as a caravan workshop, which was a steel structure.

Bryce Lund, a director of the family-owned business, told The Witness on Wednesday the owners will look to rebuild the shop once investigations and insurance issues were finalised.

“We’ve lost the whole shop and all the parts and accessories. Most of the workshop tools and caravans are gone. We’ve been going through the debris to see if there’s anything to salvage but it’s not much.”

Lund, whose father, Don, had opened the shop, said the family were traumatised.

“I got a call from an employee [on Tuesday night] and I rushed up here [from Hillcrest]. I was devastated looking at the fire. There’s a lot of history in this building. Lots of memories here. We’ll never get this stuff back.”

He said: “We are insured for this, so we pray the insurance pulls through. It’s out of our hands and we feel helpless right now. We hope and pray inspectors and the insurance come to a conclusion so we can then rebuild. We’d love to build it up again. It’s an institution in Pietermaritzburg.”

Divisional commander of Msunduzi Fire and Rescue Services, Lincoln Pennells, said about 20 firefighters had worked for about eight hours to extinguish the blaze.

“We got a call from a member of the public at about 8 pm [on Tuesday night]. The place was well engulfed in flames when we got there. We responded with three fire engines. We contained it from spreading. It was a big fire so it took about 15-20 minutes to get it under control. There were no injuries because no one was at the shop at the time. People at the nearby petrol station evacuated themselves when it began.”

He said the investigation was ongoing and it could “take a while” before a conclusion is reached.

Both lanes of Alan Paton Avenue had to be closed during the fire for safety reasons.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  fire

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