Dry con­di­tions pos­si­ble cause of Knysna blaze

Afro Voice (National Edition) - - News - AFRO VOICE RE­PORTER news@afro­tone.co.za

STRONG berg wind con­di­tions cou­pled with very dry veg­e­ta­tion most prob­a­bly re­sulted in the flare­up of a light­ning-in­duced smoul­der­ing fire which re­sulted in one of the worst fire dis­as­ters in South Africa’s his­tory in Knysna last year, a sci­en­tific re­port by the Coun­cil for Sci­en­tific and In­dus­trial Re­search (CSIR) has found.

“The cause, lo­ca­tion and tim­ing of the ignition of the Eland­skraal fire was a con­tentious is­sue from the out­set as limited data was avail­able at the time. How­ever, due to the ac­ti­va­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Char­ter on Space and Ma­jor Dis­as­ters, space agen­cies and com­mer­cial satel­lite im­age providers di­rected the ac­qui­si­tion of satel­lite im­agery to the dis­as­ter zone and more satel­lite data be­came avail­able.

“This pre­sented a gold mine of data to the CSIR re­searchers who could piece to­gether a prob­a­ble se­quence of events. The analy­ses pro­vide valu­able in­sight into the con­di­tions that led to this dis­as­trous fire and thus may as­sist in mit­i­gat­ing fire risks and in­form re­sponses in fu­ture,” CSIR re­search group leader Philip Frost said in a state­ment.

The CSIR said it had an­a­lysed all avail­able data from var­i­ous satel­lite, drone video footage, light­ning and weather data.

Fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing fire, in­ves­ti­ga­tions found that there was no ev­i­dence that the fires were de­lib­er­ately set.

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