Gar­den route fire hor­ror

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - FRANCESCA VILLETTE, CHEVON BOOYSEN AND NI­COLA DANIELS

HU­MAN­I­TAR­IAN sup­port flooded in to the coastal town of Knysna yes­ter­day af­ter rag­ing fires swept through at least 20 suburbs, killing four peo­ple and leav­ing at least 10 000 oth­ers dis­placed.

About 300 struc­tures have been to­tally de­stroyed, caus­ing dam­age amount­ing to mil­lions of rand, as the dev­as­tat­ing in­ferno, de­scribed as the worst in many years, left a trail of de­struc­tion in its wake. Among those killed was a three-year-old, who was found in Welbe­dacht yes­ter­day.

On Wed­nes­day, a farm­worker, his wife and son were also killed. Oak­lands School and the provin­cial hos­pi­tal also sus­tained sig­nif­i­cant dam­age, as well as the Montes­sori school.

Es­ti­mates by author­i­ties yes­ter­day showed se­vere dev­as­ta­tion to sev­eral suburbs, in­clud­ing Bren­ton-on-Lake, Na­nia, East­ford, Fish­er­haven, Brak­en­hill, Jood se Kamp and White Lo­ca­tion.

James-Brent Styan, spokesper­son for provin­cial lo­cal gov­ern­ment MEC An­ton Bre­dell, said com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works in Knysna and sur­rounds re­mained faulty yes­ter­day, and the pub­lic was urged to ver­ify in­for­ma­tion they re­ceived on so­cial me­dia.

Late yes­ter­day, of­fi­cials said the fires were still not un­der con­trol. Hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­port flooded in to the town through­out the day yes­ter­day, bring­ing much-needed re­lief to thou­sands of peo­ple.

The NSPCA’s dis­as­ter teams from Al­ber­ton, Ekurhu­leni, were sent yes­ter­day to as­sist an­i­mals af­fected by the fire. “The af­ter­math of such dev­as­tat­ing fires leaves a trail of de­struc­tion.

“Dis­placed an­i­mals need food and wa­ter. Se­verely in­jured an­i­mals need as­sis­tance. An­i­mals suf­fer­ing from burns re­quire vet­eri­nary as­sis­tance and may need to be hu­manely eu­thanised to end their suf­fer­ing if this is ex­treme and there is no hope of sur­vival,” the or­gan­i­sa­tion said.

The Oudt­shoorn mu­nic­i­pal­ity, about 120km from Knysna, teamed up with the In­fantry School of the South African Na­tional De­fence Force to help put out the fires.

The Pink Lo­erie Knysna Re­lief Drive was also as­sist­ing with dis­as­ter re­lief ef­forts. “As the home of the Pink Lo­erie, the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity is heart­bro­ken about what is hap­pen­ing in our favourite town.

“We want to show that Knysna means more to us than just a place to have fun and pa­rade ev­ery year. The peo­ple of Knysna need as­sis­tance with food, wa­ter, shel­ter, elec­tric­ity, gen­er­a­tors, blan­kets, clothes, etc. Any­thing you can spare,” it said in a state­ment.

The South African Na­tional Zakah Fund (San­zaf) also sent teams to the area.

Its Gar­den Route branch, in con­junc­tion with the Masjid dur Rahmah in Ge­orge, has set up a col­lec­tion point at the masjid.

A Gift of the Givers’ truck car­ry­ing bot­tled wa­ter for drought-af­fected Cape Town was re-routed to Knysna.

The causes of the fires re­main un­known.

Mean­while, the City of Cape Town has urged res­i­dents to ad­here to the in­terim re­stric­tions for their own safety, as mop-up op­er­a­tions con­tin­ued yes­ter­day.

Dis­as­ter Risk Man­age­ment spokesper­son Charlotte Pow­ell said up­rooted trees in var­i­ous ar­eas were be­ing re­moved to en­sure that road­ways were cleared.

Metro­rail said train ser­vices were still not fully op­er­a­tional fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day’s vi­cious storm and main­te­nance on the net­work was con­tin­u­ing.

Eskom provin­cial spokesper­son Jo­lene Henn con­firmed that 40 000 di­rect cus­tomers’ power lines had been re­stored, while 6 500 cus­tomers were still af­fected.

PIC­TURE: EWALD STANDER / AP

RING OF FIRE: Fire­fight­ers bat­tle a blaze in the Kran­shoek in the Western Cape on Wed­nes­day. Fires fanned by high winds swept through the scenic coastal town of Knysna, killing sev­eral peo­ple, de­stroy­ing homes and forc­ing the evac­u­a­tion of up to 10 000 peo­ple.

PIC­TURE: AP

RAZED: Houses burn in Plet­ten­berg Bay yes­ter­day.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

RAG­ING: A fire burns out of con­trol near Knysna.

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