Third fire report to shed light?
It has been almost a year since the fires and still there is no clarity on who or what was responsible for the destructive inferno.
Affected residents have already started rebuilding, some have chosen to leave, while others are seeking to claim damages from who they deem the responsible or liable party. Two opposing theories that have grabbed the attention of residents and the country at large were those put forward by the Knysna municipality and AfriForum. ‘Human activity’
As previously reported by Knysna-Plett Herald (KPH), fire chief Clinton Manuel found that the fire was caused by human activity, when flammable material was introduced into the Elandskraal area – pine cones were found where no pine trees grew and stacked fuel such as planks were found nearby. He stated that weather conditions on the day fuelled this fire along. ‘Unattended lighting strike’
In contrast, the AfriForum report by forensic scientist Dr David Klatzow states that an unattended lightning strike in the Elandskraal area months before 7 June caused underground smouldering which, fuelled by weather conditions on the day, flared into a full-blown blaze – an opinion shared by several other people, notably the engineer and scientist Dr Wallace Vosloo.
There is another report, though, that might offer a different perspective. Another view?
Independent company Vulcan Wildfire Management was contracted by the Western Cape government to compile a report, and director Ryan Heydenrych said in his latest communication with KPH: “We have concluded our report and analysis and delivered this to our client, the Western Cape Directorate Disaster Management and Fire & Rescue Services. As such, in order to get the answers you seek, I refer you to (them).”
A query regarding the report has been sent to provincial government but at the time of going to print, no answer was available.
During previous communications with Heydenrych, he said the report was compiled through conducting interviews with industry professionals, fire services, disaster management, members of the community, etc. “We have collated information from five days we spent in Knysna during the ongoing incident as well as from a two-week period during which we conducted interviews and visited key locations in Knysna and its surrounds,” he added. ‘Holistic analysis’
According to Heydenrych the report is a “holistic analysis of the Knysna fire incident in order to understand what lessons can be learned”.
“It is not aimed at the origin or cause, or finding responsibility, as that is very much the role of a fire investigation,” he said, and added, “The report takes a constructive look at the responsibility we all share in understanding the risk posed by wildfires, as well as what we can do to be better prepared,” he said.
Another report interested parties have been waiting for in anticipation is an investigation conducted by scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Meraka Institute. Queries regarding this report were left unanswered at the time of going to print.