It was shortly after 7am on Saturday when the first Domestic Animal Rescue Group (DARG) volunteers made the treacherous ascent to Dontse-Yakhe.
They had woken to news of the fire on social media and immediately mobilised, realising many animals would be at risk in the worst fire in Hout Bay’s history.
“We sent up three teams on foot, but initially they were more involved with trying to assist in putting out fires,” said Darg spokeswoman, Nathalee Kamieth. “When we eventually got round to saving the animals, what we saw was horrific. There were hundreds of dead animals up there, mostly dogs. There were definitely more deaths than injuries.”
After several gruelling hours, which saw 18 volunteers frequently putting their own safety at risk, 95 animals were brought down from the mountain.
“We also received dogs that had been knocked down by cars as they were fleeing the fire. And with the high winds on Sunday, some animals were injured by flying sheet metal,” Ms Kamieth said.
With Darg already at fully capacity before the fire, the organisation was compelled to seek alternative accommodation for the animals.
“The vets are also full, but fortunately we had some animals being privately fostered. The SPCA took 40 animals and the Animal Welfare also a large number.”
Tragically, four Darg employees also lost their homes in the blaze.
“We immediately put out appeals for donations, and people have been amazing. We have received dog and cat food and blankets as well as a large number of food parcels. Our local vets from Hout Bay Veterinary Clinic and Penzance have also been brilliant.”
One of the more fortunate animals to walk away from the fire was mountain dog Blackie. Ms Kamieth said the dog, which had previously been sterilised by Darg, had suffered only superficial burns.