Betty's Bay resident Ernie Schellhorn surveys the charred remains of his store-room today, after he spent six hours last night saving his home from flames driven by gale-force north-westerly winds. Picture Murray Williams

Cape Town - A fire raged through Betty’s Bay on Wednesday night damaging or destroying at least six houses and leaving residents little time to escape.

“Get out! There’s no time to grab anything!” was Betty’s Bay resident Billy Stanley’s urgent cry to his friend Ronel Theron on Wednesday night, as they realised flames were licking the outside of their home.

However, with the help of others, they later managed to save the house.

A blaze raged through the Overberg seaside town on Wednesday night - starting just north of the town on the R44 towards Pringle Bay.

Fanned by a gale-force wind, the flames penetrated deep into the town, damaging at least half a dozen houses.”There was no warning! I just looked up at the window and saw the curtains glowing orange.” Stanley said.

Theron said: “We grabbed the snake, the dog, the cat, the son, the computer hard drive, the speargun and the wetsuit – and not in that order – and just ran!”

They stopped at their neighbour, an elderly man in a wheelchair, and got help to evacuate him from his home.

The drama unfolded at around 7.30pm and many Betty’s Bay residents fought the fire to save homes until 2am.

“The flames were more than two storeys high - we couldn’t get close.”

Nearby, Ernie Schellhorn had been getting ready for bed, at about 8.30pm.

“I smelt smoke and I thought, ‘Those okes next door are having a braai very late and in this wind - they’re crazy! The next minute, I heard crackling and looked out. The fire was right here!” Schellhorn said.

He ran to alert his neighbours who, because of noise of the raging wind, “were oblivious to the fact that the fire was upon them”.

Emergency services arrived, not only from the local municipality in Kleinmond, but from far afield as Stellenbosch and teams fought the fire over a wide area in and around Betty’s Bay for much of Wednesday night.

Schellhorn lost his wooden storeroom to the blaze. “But, fortunately, I had mowed my lawn nice and short recently.” The flames stopped around 4m shy of his house.

“Two youngsters came round with a hose and buckets - we fought the fire until 2am,” he said, exhausted.

Early on Thursday morning, relieved residents and firefighters welcomed a blessing from above - soaking rain - which doused the flames.

Cape Argus