Evacuations, building destroyed as wildfires spread in Paarl

Approximately 15ha of land have been destroyed on the farm, Druk My Niet. (James de Villiers, News24)
Approximately 15ha of land have been destroyed on the farm, Druk My Niet. (James de Villiers, News24)

Cape Town – More than 100 people have been evacuated from two farms in Paarl and the main building of the renowned Calais Wine Estate has burnt down as wildfires in the area spread.

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Drakenstein municipality fire head Derick Damons said shortly after 02:00, 137 residents were evacuated from the Olyvenbosch and Salem farms.

"They are being accommodated in a hall on the Salem farm, and the Dal Josaphat Primary School was gracious enough to accommodate people there."

Blazes also burnt down the main building of the oldest wine farm in Paarl, the Calais Wine Estate, on Tuesday morning.

Damons said strong winds fanned the flames.

"At 7 o’clock this morning [Tuesday] the main house was destroyed by fires. Strong winds and the timber flooring and beams in the building helped the flames," he said.

Wildfires started burning in the area on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Damons said the fire was not yet under control.

"Strong gusty winds have fanned the flames," he said.

"We have aerial support. They could only be deployed this morning because of strong winds the past few days. We hope that the helicopters will help bring the situation more under control."

Two military helicopters and 56 firefighters are currently on the scene.

The Du Toit’s Kloof tunnel was open, while the Du Toit’s Kloof pass has been closed.

"The tunnel is open, but people need to be very careful because of all the smoke in the area," Damons said.


The main house at the Calais estate which burnt down (Calais Wine Estate) 

Several other wildfires

The City of Cape Town on Tuesday said that fires on Table Mountain near Vredehoek had been contained. Four buildings were damaged in the blazes.

Several other wildfires have broken out around the Western Cape since January.

Last Wednesday, two homes burnt down in Simon's Town.

There was damage to several wine farms in Somerset West and Grabouw, and the luxury Bezweni Lodge burnt down.

At the start of January, the historic homestead of Afrikaans poet Totius was destroyed in a fire.

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