Dry conditions possible cause of Knysna blaze
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.