The Suiderstrand Fire

Around lunchtime on December the 22nd, a veldfire ignited near the parking lot in Suiderstrand. With the southeaster blowing hard, the fire quickly spread and within half an hour, one building was completely destroyed. If it weren’t for the quick reactions of the Working On Fire helicopter from Bredasdorp, it could have been a lot, lot worse.

We weren’t down here then, as we were spending Christmas with family in Cape Town, and it took a while before the panicky messages on the whatsapp groups – in Afrikaans, nogal – began to make sense and I finally worked out that our place was not in immediate danger. It was a horrible few minutes. The point of ignition was only 100m from our front door, and had the fire started 24 hours before, it would have been blown directly towards our place.

The wind has been pumping since we arrived down here, and it was only yesterday morning that I managed to get the drone up to survey the scene from above and see just how lucky some houses were to escape serious harm.

There are plenty of melted gutters and lots of damaged paintwork, but nothing that can’t be repaired after the festive break. Not so much for the burnt-out home though. It’s a sad and sobering sight.

If one is looking for positives – and at this time of year, one should always have a glass half full – it was that this was the only casualty, and that no-one was injured or killed in the fire.

The village reacted well, with plenty of people on hand to assist where possible and great communication. And we’ve all renewed our knowledge of evacuation procedures and emergency numbers, which is never a bad thing.

We just hope we never have to use them.

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