Garden route fire horror
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.
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.
RAZED: Houses burn in Plettenberg Bay yesterday.
RAGING: A fire burns out of control near Knysna.