Tourists flee resort fire

Tourists flee resort fire

13 August 2008

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South Africa — More than 30 people – most of them Dutch and British tourists – were on Tuesday evacuated from a luxury resort overlooking the Addo Elephant National Park.

This came after a fire destroyed 35 chalets.

The book keeper at the Zuurberg Mountain Village resort, Mary Ann Endley told News24 on Wednesday that a camp fire adjacent to the resort got out of control on Sunday and spread across the landscaped gardens.

At first only vegetation was affected.

“On Monday it was under control,” Endley said. “We had 85 firefighters including our people helping to put it out, and fire engines.”

Endley and owner Henry Alant, who both live in Port Elizabeth, left the resort at about 20:00 after giving the firefighters supper.

“Before we got to Port Elizabeth the wind had changed and the fire came roaring up,” said Endley.

R10m damage
Within 15 minutes the thatched chalets caught fire. All 35 burned down. The newly-built conference centre and chapel were also destroyed as was the cottage Alant uses when he is at the lodge.

Endley said the fynbos and bushes, dry from the winter months, “exploded” and sent sparks flying.

The tourists were heading to their chalets after dinner when the fire turned. All were evacuated and given alternative accommodation at Addo and in Port Elizabeth.

Alant said although all of the tourists had escaped unhurt, many lost their personal belongings.

He put the damage at about R10m.

Meanwhile, other fires continued in the Zuurberg mountains according to head of Disaster Management, Mandisa Nohashe. She said the cause of these fires were not known and fire workers were struggling to bring it under control after the wind changed direction on Tuesday night.

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