It was a Sunday morning on the 2nd September 2007 and I, Teneale du Plessis (current Sales & Marketing Manager) was at the Wedding Expo at the Coca-Cola Dome. At around 10h00 I received a call from De Wet du Plessis, who was out of breath and frantic on the other end. As the signal was limited only a few piercing words came through… “it’s burning, it’s all gone.”
So started the panic of this dreaded day! At the lodge, some of the guests who were staying over, tried to help the staff remove the furniture from the conference rooms and the equipment from reception. Some of the guests were even found lying on the roofs of the chalets trying to wet the thatch with garden hoses. After that the gas bottles started exploding and that was when all present retreated to the other side of the dam and simply watched the beautiful lodge, which took years to build, burn to the ground within an hour.
Whilst at the show, I called all the newspapers to ask them to print the story and advised Intundla clients to contact the Lodge on their cell phones as all records were now ash. Later it was discovered that the fire was started by a power surge. After the initial damage to the Game Lodge and Conference Venue the fire continued to rage and turned into a 3 day veld fire which threatened to come back and finish the chalets off (one had already burnt from the debris travelling over the dam).
Once the larger flames had died down and the smoke had disappeared a clear image of the untouched Wedding Chapel with its beautiful garden was an unbelievable site to behold. The path of the fire was clear to be seen and had somehow left the chapel and surrounding garden untouched! This chapel still stands today.
The devastation of the day did not come close to the upcoming days and months which followed. The very next day a Bride arrived from the UK to find her Wedding Venue smoking from the still warm ashes. All our records were distroyed and we didn’t know which conference clients were coming and what their requirements were.
We did however manage to make sure we could do everything for our clients. A neighbouring Lodge accommodated all the conferences and Intundla’ staff was on hand for all their catering needs.
As we rebuilt, all our staff; housekeepers, chef’s, barmen, duty managers, everyone were available to help restore our beautiful lodge. Six months after the fire the Lodge and Conference Venue outside Pretoria was once again open for business.
In September every year we remember the scorching heat of that day and the additional heat of the fire and how we had to start over. Today we are grateful we have come so far after this crippling event, and look at how beautiful Intundla continues to become!