Saturday, February 27, 2010

Prince Albert Emergency Services Come Up Trumps

- Elaine Hurford -

Prince Albert’s emergency services were put to the test and came up trumps two weeks ago when a trailer of waste caught alight near the Weltevrede turnoff.

Sitting in the patio at Koppie House, Elaine Hurford and Hugh Forsyth heard a series of sustained, muffled explosions which grew alarmingly loud as it came ever closer. Peering down the driveway, they saw a huge pile of debris in the road, and a dense column of smoke.

Hugh, who had parked outside the gate, was convinced he was about to witness the final meltdown of the Little Red Devil and took off down the driveway at warp speed. Ducking under flying bottles pelting him through a cloud of smoke, he leapt in and moved his bakkie well out of the way up the Weltevrede road.

The quick-acting driver, Graham Dolf, who had seen the smoke from his rear-view mirror, had already unhitched the cab and driven it a safe distance away.

The contents of the trailer were smouldering fiercely; a towering pile of waste material on top of huge sacks of plastic cooldrink bottles had caught alight and was emitting a massive pillar of smoke.

The drivers were valiantly trying to put out the fire with salvaged one-litre plastic cooldrink bottles dipped into the leiwater stream. Andries Ryneveld, Elaine’s gardener was just then irrigating the orange orchard, and was able to lead the pipe through the fence and over the road. Maria Nel the charlady came to the rescue with all the buckets from the household.

Elaine had called the Police who arrived in less than five minutes, immediately summoning a fire truck which arrived shortly afterwards, followed by an ambulance.

It took an hour of concentrated effort to douse the smouldering load and once safe, the drivers continued on their way to the Oudtshoorn recycling plant. Scorched cloth and mountains of plastic bottles littered the road for about 50 metres.

Within a short time the Municipal garbage collection vehicle had arrived and by lunchtime there was no evidence left at all.

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