Friday, July 29, 2011

BREAKING. Raging wildfire engulfs the set of M-Net's soap The Wild; threatened cast and crew evacuated as flames threatened production.

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I can break the news exclusively - and have all the real-life dramatic details - about a raging, out-of-control wildfire that threatened the set, cast and crew of M-Net's soap The Wild and caused the complete evacuation from the game farm outside Heidelberg on Wednesday and forced an unexpected shutdown of the production as flames advanced to the lodge.

''It was a real-life drama behind the scenes of The Wild,'' executive producer Bobby Heaney, tells TV with Thinus. ''On Wednesday at 13:00 someone noticed smoke in the distance, drove to the top of the mountain and saw that a fire has started in the distance two farms away and was advancing - due to very strong winds - in the direction of The Wild,'' he says. ''Luckily we're surrounded by an informed, very tight community well-used to dealing with fires immediately and everyone was immediately aware of the threatening fire coming towards us.''

Fire prevention sprang into action to try and contain the fire with 70 people, including fire beaters and 20 vehicles trying to bring it under control as the cast and crew evacuated the lodge set. A bakkie got damaged while a fire truck got stuck but nobody was injured as the production called for an immediate evacuation. The fire actually started as a firebreak two farms away but the farmer underestimated the wind. By 22:00 on Wednesday the fire drama than engulfed The Wild was over.

''We had to drop 4 scenes and with the production schedule as tight as this one is, it did create a bit of an issue,'' says Bobby Heaney. ''But the scenes have been picked up and by the end of today [Friday] we will be back on schedule.''

''We were very lucky,'' he says when it comes to outside scenes and scenic shots. ''I was very concerned about how the result of the fire will be impacting the vista. Luckily the only part destroyed is one section over the plains on the right of the lodge - actually a part we burned as a quick firebreak.''

''The irony is that while The Wild was experiencing a very dramatic real-life fire event, the soap is working on exactly such a story and some of the fire footage we managed to shoot will be making it into the actual show,'' says Bobby Heaney. ''In upcoming episodes Ian Roberts who plays Karel is burning firebreaks and some of this footage will be built into that storyline. We will even be using a section of the burnt farm now. In an ironic sense some of the real-life drama will be seen on screen in The Wild soon.''