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Cape Town - Picking through the scorched remains of his luxury powerboat, Roland Craik was at a loss for words.
His is one of three vessels which were destroyed in a blaze that ripped through garages at the Oceana Powerboat Club in Granger Bay on Thursday afternoon.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said, shaking his head as he siphoned fuel from the petrol tank of his R200 000 boat.
Club commodore Colin Wolfsohn said the fire started at about 12.40pm.
“Some guys had been busy welding nearby when they heard a click or pop come from the garages. When they ran to go look what had happened, one of the larger garages near the road was on fire.”
It did not take long for the fire to spread, and flames licked at the flammable fibreglass of the powerboats inside.
The club’s garages house about 30 powerboats.
“As I drove there I had visions of the whole place burnt to the ground,” said Wolfsohn, who is based in Claremont.
When he arrived, firefighters were battling to contain the blaze.
“But it wasn’t working. When fibreglass catches fire you can’t just put it out with water. That’s when they started using foam and the fire began to die down,” he said.
It took firefighters two hours to put out the flames.
As the smoke cleared, the damage was revealed - three expensive boats were blackened husks.
Wolfsohn said only one of the vessels was insured. “Fortunately nobody was injured.”
But Evan Darcy-Jones is not feeling so fortunate.
His large Baja powerboat, valued at R1.5 million, had been parked in front of the garage that burst into flames.
“It was only there because I had to move it to let someone out of their own garage,” Darcy-Jones said.
The flames melted the boat’s portside.
“Somebody tried to pull it out of the way, but the truck they were using was not strong enough to move it. They had to go out and get another one, and by then it was too late.”
He said the damage was irreparable. “I will probably be able to salvage the motors and a few of the other parts. It’s burnt down to core, it’s basically scrap.”
But it could have been much worse.
“We are lucky it was just three boats,” said Wolfsohn.
“I really have to commend firefighters on how quickly they were on the scene. A couple of minutes later and we could’ve lost everything.”
He suspected the fire was caused by an electrical fault.
A forensic investigation is due to take place.