He had thick firemen’s hoses with brass nozzles set up around his property, a farmhouse which doubles as a yoga studio and healing centre. He was dressed in a thick coat and winter muffler which he doused with water so he could withstand intense heat, if necessary, to defend the home that he and his wife have enjoyed for the past nine years.
From his vantage point, he could look down to where the fire had started, in the hills above the valley town of Santa Paula, and trace the progress of its sinister orange glow as fierce winds caused it to whip up and down canyons and draw ever closer.
But de Wet was not ready, not for this. A transformer exploded in the hills, sending power lines crashing into the mountain chaparral and creating a whole new front of flames and heat. With the winds now reaching 80mph, his neighborhood was engulfed at dizzying speed.
“I watched as one structure after another would just ignite and burn, ignite and burn,” he recalled. “It was an inferno.”