'Someone must have prayed': Relief as Paarl blaze is brought under control by firefighters and locals

Paarl wine farm co-owner Zed Retief says they slept in shifts (Jenni Evans, News24)
Paarl wine farm co-owner Zed Retief says they slept in shifts (Jenni Evans, News24)

"Someone must have prayed," said Paarl resident Pieter Koen, after the Paarl fire was brought under control on Friday.

"It burnt in a line," said the security company manager over the sound of three helicopters attacking the fire with water bombs. "God's hand was here, because the wind changed direction," said Koen.

"It could have been like the St Francis fire," he said, referring to a blaze which ripped through at least 80 homes on Tuesday. The latest fire started early evening on Thursday in Paarl, north of Cape Town.

Drakenstein municipality spokesperson Riana Geldenhuys said a large team had been mobilised to fight the fire, and that nobody had been evacuated or injured.

The firefighting team had included people from the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Stellenbosch Local Municipality and Drakenstein Farm Watch.

ALSO READ: Paarl fire brought under control, no need for evacuations 

Wine farm co-owner Zed Retief said they had been hosting a wedding in the vineyards of their Pearl Mountain wine and olive farm on Thursday night when they spotted the fire. 

"And vineyards burn well," he said wryly.

Within no time, firefighters arrived and farmers and members of the public stepped in to offer help in any way they could. 

The bridal party carried on with their wedding and some people even popped up to the estate to watch the fire, Retief said.

"We slept in shifts," he said, as diners chatted nearby. 

The three helicopters scooped water from a nearby dam and flew in a row to drop their loads of the flashes of red popping up around the mountainside. 

About eight families live on the Pearl Mountain wine farm.

A woman walking through the agapanthus towards Paarl CBD said: "We didn't sleep at all last night."

"But then the wind turned. We weren't scared," said the woman, speaking on condition of anonymity.

fires
(Supplied by Pieter Koen)

fires

(Supplied by Pieter Koen)

fires

(Supplied by Pieter Koen)

paarl
Where the fire stopped before the wind turned. It's close to where the vineyards and suburbs start (Jenni Evans  News24)

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