By DION HENRICK 

CAPE TOWN – WHEN Lisette Lombard started her routine trail run this past Sunday morning, nothing seemed amiss.

Atop the Devil’s Peak, she was even enjoying the small plume of smoke coming from the direction near Rhodes Memorial.

The fitness enthusiast was even contemplating going for a further run. Unbeknown to her, she was dicing with death.

A tragedy was brewing, in the form of the out-of-control fires that have devastated Rhodes Memorial restaurant, parts of Table Mountain and the University of Cape Town.

Five minutes into her run, reality struck.

“When I looked down, I noticed it (fire) was spreading very quickly. I started running down because I was afraid for my car,” Lombard recounted.

When she got close to the parking lot at Rhodes Memorial, she remembers hearing two explosions.

“I then saw the flames in front of me. That’s when I knew I was in trouble,” Lombard explained.

While she was fortunate that she got out of the forest alive, she was not particularly lucky with the car.

“I was thankful to find policemen and firefighters who confirmed that my car had been destroyed.”

With the life-threatening situation still to sink in, Lombard asked if she could go see it.

“When they told me that it (fire) is out of control, that is when the penny dropped on how dangerous the situation was, and how lucky I had got,” the shaken Lombard said.

She is the communication manager of Old Mutual Insure.

According to the company, while it is still early to quantify, losses from the fire are estimated as high as R1 billion (about US$70 million).

Christelle Colman, Old Mutual Insure spokesperson, said such ordeals as Lombard’s were disturbing as they has to deal with the emotional trauma of having narrowly escaped a raging fire, as well as loss of property.

However, Colman said in life-threatening situations, it is first and foremost important to protect oneself, and that the safety of possessions need to take second preference.

She highlighted the importance of members of the public to ensure their insurance was updated.

“Wildfires spread quickly, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself and your family. And remember to protect your home and car to by making sure your insurance is up to date,” Colman said.

– CAJ News