Man saved in dramatic quad bike rescue
“He tried to push the motorbike along the gravel road to get himself to a place of safety but the flames were too quick.”
That was the frightening scenario unfolding before Didi de Kock that set in motion a heroic quad bike rescue at a popular guest farm near Ceres in the Western Cape.
De Kock‚ from the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve‚ heard a man shouting as he tried to escape from a vegetation fire fanned by strong winds at the neighbouring Klondyke Cherry Farm on Thursday.
Speaking from hospital in Ceres‚ where she is being treated for smoke inhalation‚ De Kock said on Friday: “The wind was extremely strong but all of sudden the wind changed direction fanning the flames into the direction of the guest farm. Everyone ran to get away.
“The fire was fast approaching the man. He hopped onto his bike but his motorbike would not start. He tried to push the motorbike along the gravel road to get himself to a place of safety but the flames were too quick for him.”
De Kock did not hesitate to jump on a quad bike and race off to help. When she got near‚ the man was on his hands and knees‚ his clothing smouldering. She grabbed him by the belt and helped onto her quad bike.
They sped through the smouldering veld and up a steep hill to safety where the man was sprayed with water to stop his clothes‚ hair and beard from burning.
“They had to get the clothes off the man as quickly as possible because it was melting into his skin. He was tended to by a group of people who had placed wet towels on his body while they waited for the ambulance to arrive.”
De Kock sustained a burn wound to her arm during the rescue and was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Klondyke Cherry Farm’s Alan Garlick said the injured man had been a guest. “He was taken to a hospital in Worcester. I called the hospital today and I was told that he will be transferred to Tygerberg Hospital [in Cape Town] because they have a burns unit with highly specialised doctors there.”
He said the fire had burnt veld and vegetation but caused no significant damage to property.
The Matroosberg Reserve and Klondyke Cherry Farm are popular destinations‚ particularly in winter when they are blanketed in snow.