Fri, 22 Nov 2019

The fire that destroyed the kitchen at Durbanville's Ruslamere guest house is the second devastating blow for the owner after she lost her husband in a vehicle accident two years ago.

After Gisela Rathbone's husband, Russell, died in the accident, she stayed on at the popular four-star conference venue, spa, and restaurant.

"She is a very strong lady," said the company's marketing specialist, Charnelle Ollewagen, as charred and jagged tiles and beams were etched into the sky after the fire.

PICS: Luxury Cape Town guest house on fire, guests evacuated

"Rusty", as Rathbone's husband was known, was killed while they were travelling in convoy with friends to Botswana.

They swerved to avoid an oncoming truck, but Rusty was killed when his vehicle, the third in the convoy, was hit, Netwerk24 reported at the time.

Ollewagen said all the staff was on duty when the fire started, so they were able to evacuate everybody quickly.

Guests were also able to take their personal belongings with them and were accommodated elsewhere.

They are currently working on getting the venue up and running again once the fire marshal gives them the go-ahead.

The fire at the guesthouse in Langeberg Road, Durbanville, broke out at around 05:30, according to Jermaine Carelse, the media spokesperson for City of Cape Town Fire Service.

"We have 29 staff members, eight firefighting appliances, tanks and water tankers; a rescue vehicle and BA [breathing apparatus] vehicle on the scene," said Carelse earlier on Tuesday.

No injuries were reported, and the immediate damage was to the kitchen and reception area, as well as on the upper floor. Two offices, a bedroom and bathroom were destroyed.

Meanwhile, local residents slowed down at the grand gates for a look at what had befallen the local landmark.

"I loved that place! I had my 50th birthday there," said one man wistfully.

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