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Workers evacuated as wildfire guts historic wine farm in Paarl area

17 January 2017 - 18:49 By Petru Saal
The fire rages on the mountainside around Glencairn.
The fire rages on the mountainside around Glencairn.
Image: David Harrison

More than 100 people were evacuated and an historic wine farm building was destroyed as a fierce wildfire raged in the Paarl area on Tuesday.

Firefighters were battling fires in several places in the Western Cape‚ fanned by strong winds and hot temperatures.

  • Air force to deploy more helicopters to help fight fires in Western CapeThe South African Air force has agreed to deploy additional resources to combat the fires that have ravaged parts of the Western Cape in recent weeks. 

Paarl was covered by thick smoke as farm workers were evacuated earlier in the day – many with only the clothing on their backs.

The fire also destroyed the main building on the Calais wine estate.

Johannes Mentoor‚ 61‚ sought refuge at a local school at 4am. He had no time to salvage any personal belongings and has no idea if anything will be left when the inferno is eventually brought under control.

  • IN PICTURES: Cape Town firefighters battle blaze through the nightA wildfire raging on the lower slopes of Table Mountain on Tuesday morning saw some Cape Town residents voluntarily evacuate their homes while crews fought through the night to control a blaze that started above Deer Park. Documentary photographer Justin Sullivan was on the scene.  

At least 138 people were taken to safety at Dal Josaphat Primary school where they will spend tonight.

Drakenstein municipality assistant fire chief Warren Scholtz told TMG Digital: “People will stay here overnight. Blankets‚ supper‚ mattresses and toiletries will be provided.

“Fire is not the big issue now but the smoke that is still covering the area. Altogether there are 212 farm workers that are being looked after. As of now there have been no injuries‚ just a young girl who was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation this morning."

A two-year-old with asthma was also given medical attention after inhaling smoke.

Three helicopters were deployed earlier on Tuesday to help bring a fire under control that raged overnight on the slopes of Table Mountain. Two homes were damaged and residents evacuated their homes in the suburb of Vredehoek.