WATCH: Wildfire that hit Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa results in millions of rands worth of damage
Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa, a private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, burned down due to harsh weather conditions on Sunday.
The game reserve is located in malaria-free Mid-Illovo, part of the greater Gwahumbe Valley, and offered a variety of catered and self-catered accommodation, ranging from ultimate luxury to a rustic bush camp.
Shanon MacKenzie, owner of the Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa, said the family-owned business was one of the casualties of a devastating runaway wildfire that destroyed farms and businesses in Mid-Illovo on Sunday.
MacKenzie said staff and the community “fought late into the night to save the lodge and chalets”. However, the wildfire resulted in millions of rands worth of damage.
“All of our staff are safe and accounted for and our staff accommodation was saved. We have sent most of our traumatised staff home. The family and conservationists had been working since before dawn this morning to account for wildlife on the reserve. By midday, it appeared that animal casualties had been minimal and most animals had been located,” she said.
The main lodge and some units were beyond repair.
Gwahumbe was founded 26 years ago by MacKenzie’s mother and father who both designed and built the reserve themselves on rehabilitated farmland.
Over the years, it has achieved a great deal from a conservation point of view and had hosted BBC television’s “Top Gear” and Gordon Ramsay’s National Geographic travel food show, “UnCharted”
Facebook user Loren Hampson Maguire posted about the devastating fire on Monday. She said: "Yesterday is a day our community will never forget. Fires, fueled by strong winds began to rage through farms in our area. They started at 9 am and continued for over 16 hours. Farmers and helpers came from near and far, bringing water and tirelessly and bravely fought well into the night. A huge thank you to all who risked their lives to save homes.
“Very sadly Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa was raised to the ground. My mum and dad started the lodge over 20 years ago, designing and building everything themselves. It has been such a special place for our family, a home away from home. Now owned and run by my sister. She along with many others have lost entire farms, businesses and homes." (sic)