Intense fight contains fires
Most of the Garden Route fires are under control despite flareups in some areas.
That was the word on Friday following an intense week in which 600 firefighters from several districts across the Garden Route pulled together to fight the blazes.
At some stages during the week, 23 fires were burning simultaneously in different areas of the Garden Route.
By Friday morning, the situation was normalising, with six fires being monitored.
Garden Route District Municipality spokesperson Herman Pieters said an assessment was still under way to determine the extent of the damage, but an estimated 65,000 hectares of land had been burnt.
In addition, hundreds of people were displaced from small towns while 19 homes were gutted, 16 partially destroyed, and nine people were killed.
Pieters said the current fires and flare-ups were in the De Vlugt and Karatara area as well as different areas in George.
In De Vlugt, Pieters said, there was a long active fire line when the fire jumped Dubells Road to the north, making a Ushape. “Choppers could not do water drops due to smoke conditions earlier.”
Pieters said communication with teams in the De Vlugt area was a major issue prompting teams to be sent to the blaze to provide communication support.
“A mobile repeater from Emergency Medical Services is also near the scene to assist with radio communications,” he said. “Firefighters are safe because the fire moved past the sawmill.”
In the George area, firefighters were still monitoring the Seven Passes and Plantation Road area for flare-ups.
Non-profit organisation Rebuild Eden member Lesley Langham said they had been working around the clock.
“We are housing several people who are still at the halls,” she said.
“Either their homes were destroyed or the community they live in is not safe enough to return.”