I can exclusively be first to break the news and bring you all the detail after a massive fire broke out at the SABC's Henley Studios just after 20:00 this evening which has completely destroyed the Isidingo set of the Endemol SA production and has caused what will be millions of rands worth of damage.
Don't blame Cherel or Barker Haines - the vindictive and deliciously evil characters in the soap- for the real life fire which engulfed the studio at the SABC this evening and caused widespread panic but which was finally brought under control as fire fighters battled the Isidingo blaze.
ALSO READ: SABC IN SHOCK AFTER ISIDINGO BLAZE: ''THIS IS SOMETHING WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE," SAYS ACTING CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER HLAUDI MOTSOENENG.
ALSO READ: SABC works all through the night to keep SABC3 on the air; make sure SABC3's morning show Expresso goes out without a break in transmission.
ALSO READ: Cherel didn't do it! Michelle Botes reacts to the fire which destroyed the Isidingo set and how she found out.
This is by far the biggest fire the South African public broadcaster has ever experienced at its Auckland Park headquarters in the history of the SABC insiders tell me, who are already estimating the damage at tens of millions of rand (one insider mentioned "at leasr R40 million" but any damage assessement numbers now would be speculative).
SABC executives are shocked by the unexpected destruction and event, I'm told, and Isidingo cast and crew as they started getting the news from late last night, are in shock as well.
The SABC went into complete emergency mode shortly after the fire broke out, with the main concern being to keep SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 on the air and to not have the national television or radio transmission affected. The SABC is classified as a "national point of interest" and is a national strategic and safety and security concern.
The public broadcaster immediately mobilised as the Isidingo studio was being gutted by the raging fire.
In July last year TV with Thinus exclusively broke the news of the raging wildfire on set which halted production on M-Net's new soap The Wild and set the actors and production crew fleeing for their lives before an oncoming blaze.
And in 2010 a fire and fire damage in studio forced e.tv's morning show Sunrise off the air.
The SABC tells me no foul play is expected at this stage as to the cause of the fire, but that the Isidingo studio, containing millions of rands of equipment and sets have been completely destroyed in the blaze housed at Studio 6 at the SABC. No specific cause for the Isidingo fire is yet known, I'm told.
The SABC is extremely concerned about the fire which ravaged Henley Studios and which has brought an immediate end to the production of the soap as well as other productions in the studio complex.
The soap which is prerecorded about 3 months in advance has several episodes in the can, so Isidingo will not immediately disappear from television - although it will immediately create huge pressure on the SABC, Endemol SA, the producers and SABC3 which broadcasts the show, which will definitely immediately start with emergency meetings tomorrow.
The SABC is extremely concerned about other possible related damage as well - damage to other adjacent sets, as well as the SABC building structurally and especially cabling running through the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters which will definitely also have been damaged in the blaze while Isidingo went up in flames tonight.
"There is no need for panic," SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told me just before midnight, confirming that the Isidingo set is toast after a fire swept through the production from just after eight this evening.
"Nobody has been injured. "The loss of sets and equipment will total millions," Kaizer Kganyago tells me, "but there is no need for panic. The SABC is operational, SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 are all broadcasting; there has been no break in transmission. And everything was insured. In the morning we will go and have a look and be able to check and see after the fire is out, what the true extent of the damage is."
"A thorough investigation will start in the morning as to the cause of the fire and the damage to the SABC, the studio and Isidingo," says Kaizer Kganyago.
Related sets and therefore other SABC productions and TV shows on SABC1 and SABC2 could also be affected depending on the damage to the studio complex and adjacent sets and equipment. "We don't suspect foul play but serious investigations will start first thing in the morning."
SABC3 was actually off the air for a while Wednesday night.