Isidingo's Cherel left speechless by fire

Cape Town – Cherel de Villiers-Haines didn't do it.

Michelle Botes, the doyenne of devious deliciousness as arch-bitch and uber-nemesis of just about everyone on Horizon Deep in SABC3's Isidingo reacted to the shocking news that the long-running show's set was destroyed in a raging fire on Wednesday night.

A shocked Botes was still speechless when asked for reaction after a massive fire ripped through the SABC's Studio 6 at Henley Studios in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, at about 20:00 and caused tens of millions of rands worth of damage.

SABC3 silent

The SABC's fire system couldn't contain the blaze which took firefighters – some of whom were overcome by smoke – more than three hours to put out.

She said she found out about the devastation of the soap's set on Thursday morning.

"I found out early this morning. I got messages from very early on from the whole world."

So far SABC3 hasn't responded and Endemol South Africa, which produces the soap, is also silent after the fire caused a break in transmission on SABC3 for a few minutes.

On the scene, the SABC's acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng told SABC News reporters that "this is something we don’t know how to handle, but I think we’ll get there."

The SABC said on Thursday that it will take months for the broadcaster and the production companies to return to normal, since the damage also impacts on two other soaps, SABC1's Generations and SABC2's Muvhango which is also filmed in Henley Studios.