'Angry Mother Nature can destroy anything and anyone'

12 June 2017 - 09:50 By Petru Saal
SHINGLES NIGHT: The Grand Cafe & Beach, which was damaged by gale force winds in Cape Town's big storm.
SHINGLES NIGHT: The Grand Cafe & Beach, which was damaged by gale force winds in Cape Town's big storm.

Reporter Petru Saal describes the fear she experienced while escaping the fires on the Garden Route on Saturday.

"Photographer Esa Alexander and I decided to make a run for it as flames closed in on Buffalo Bay. Our narrow escape has left me shaking.

Evacuation commander Patrick Walton, 45, told us we would be stuck in Buffalo Bay until at least 7pm. We and hundreds of others had been waiting at the evacuation point for more than two hours.

Alexander decided we needed to be on the other side of town. Spending the night in a car at the beach was not going to do it for him. And he was the driver.

I protested, he proceeded. Fires were burning on either side of the only road out of town. I prayed we would make it out alive.

Your limits are never more tested than when you are surrounded by fire, thick smoke and hot air. You cannot breathe, you cannot see.

I screamed: "Turn the car around! We are alone on this road; if something happens to us no one will know." But the daredevil photographer pushed on. Before long, I found myself changing my anxious tune and yelling: "Drive faster!"

The thing about adrenaline is that it is a drug. Once it is pumping through your veins in sufficient quantities, you want more.

Covering the Knysna fires for the past few days has left me hooked on adrenaline.

Things are bad. Fires are out of control. Firefighters are exhausted. Roads are constantly being closed.

Unless you're there, it's difficult to understand the scale of what is unfolding on the Garden Route. It is clear when Mother Nature is angry she is capable of destroying anything and anyone in her way.

You cannot stop her and you cannot reason with her.

From my place of safety, I pray that soon she will relent and bless us with rain.''

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