While Van Baalen had a lucky escape, another resident, Lola Melck, 55, who lives in Chelsea Road where a house was gutted, said the boundary fence around her property had sustained minor damage.
“My biggest fear was for our animals, including the horses, on the property because all that smoke can kill them,” Melck said.
“When we got home, we saw that [the fire] was on the borderline and the absolute fear [that gripped us] was more for our animals’ safety because everything else is replaceable.”
Because the Melcks live in a cul-de-sac, they cut open part of their fencing to allow the neighbours’ horses through.
Kragga Kamma veterinary hospital’s Dr Kathleen Davids, 31, who helped gather horse trailers to transport the animals to a safer area, said about 60 horses had been moved from Lorraine.
“It was just amazing to see how the community came together to help,” Davids said.
“My phone did not stop ringing for about two hours with offers of help.
“About 50 people showed up with bakkies and horse trailers to transport the animals to the polocrosse club.
“We decided to evacuate the horses as a precautionary measure and, thankfully, there were no injuries.”
Lee Budler, 31, of Miramar, said he had wanted to help because his parents’ house in Theescombe had burnt down a few years ago.
“I made my own fire truck, filled bottles of water from a dam in Theescombe and drove to the heart of the fire in Montmedy Road, where we made a human chain and started dousing the flames,” he said.
“It was very chaotic but everyone knew what they were doing and there were so many people – it looked like a scene out of a movie.
“While we were driving down Chelsea Road, the flames were as high as the windows of the truck, which did leave me fearing for my life a little bit, but the adrenalin was pumping throughout.
“Only when I got home did I realise that my chest was sore from inhaling all that smoke.”
Muhamed Shafee, 37, of Malabar, was among 12 volunteers from that suburb to make their way to assist with dousing the fires.
He said he felt empathy for the people whose houses were affected.
“We decided to help out because every hand would help, so we gathered empty containers and buckets and filled them up with water at an abandoned house nearby.
“Things got chaotic at a stage, but we approached the fire from the rear and tried to stay behind it so that we did not suffer too much smoke inhalation.
“When we started dousing the fires, I realised you cannot combat nature, but because we worked as a team we were able to,” Shafee said.
Baron said the cause of the fire could still not be determined.
“A westerly wind flared up early on Tuesday night after [a] house was razed in Chelsea Close,” he said.
“[This was] after a bush fire was reported at approximately 10.15 that morning in the Theescombe area, but we [have not been able to] determine the cause as yet.
“The fire and emergency services were on high alert as we continued to battle numerous bush fires [on Tuesday] in Tiryville in Uitenhage, Circular Drive, Kragga Kamma, Theescombe, Greenbushes and the Draaifontein area as well as in La Roche Drive [Humewood],” Baron said.
According to a fire and emergency services official, they have attended to an average of 20 fires a day since Monday.