Film­maker saves three from fire and smoke

The Witness - - NEWS -

THREE Betty’s Bay res­i­dents nar­rowly es­caped in­jury — or worse — with the help of pho­tog­ra­pher and film­maker Justin Sul­li­van on Fri­day as a roar­ing fire rav­aged the Over­strand area.

The three were among scores of res­i­dents who had to evac­u­ate the coastal town as smoke and flames threat­ened to en­gulf it. Sul­li­van, cur­rently mak­ing a doc­u­men­tary about wild­fires, had ar­rived in Betty’s Bay just after 2Tpm on Fri­day af­ter­noon when he spot­ted trou­ble.

He told News24 yes­ter­day that there was ex­tremely low vis­i­bil­ity in the smoke-filled streets.

Through the thick smoke, Sul­li­van saw a man walk down the road and dis­ap­pear.

He drove to­wards him, un­able to travel faster than about 10 km/h due to the low vis­i­bil­ity.

Sul­li­van hooted at the man, who could not hear him.

The man was in an “ex­tremely bad po­si­tion”, as the fire was mov­ing closer to him, and Sul­li­van reached him just as the flames be­gan cross­ing the road to where he was. Sul­li­van took the man to emer­gency work­ers sta­tioned at a road­block on the edge of town.

Re­turn­ing to Betty’s Bay, Sul­li­van then spot­ted an el­derly cou­ple hud­dled to­gether on the side of the road, next to their burn­ing car.

They were try­ing to get into the ve­hi­cle to leave town, but it caught alight. He also took them to safety.

Sul­li­van said he was just one of many peo­ple — in­clud­ing emer­gency ser­vices work­ers and or­di­nary peo­ple — who helped oth­ers that day.

“I’m very im­pressed that no one was killed,” he said, adding that the fire came down the moun­tain and en­tered the town so quickly that many peo­ple had no time to pre­pare to evac­u­ate.

At least 31 houses have been de­stroyed in the fires which sav­aged the Over­strand ar­eas of Fran­skraal, Betty’s Bay and Kar­wyder­skraal. The fires started when a man al­legedly set off flares about two weeks ago.

Shel­ton April (34) is ex­pected back in the Cale­don Mag­is­trate’s Court to­day. He faces a charge of con­tra­ven­ing the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment: Pro­tected Ar­eas Act, for al­legedly caus­ing a fire, dis­card­ing a burn­ing ob­ject in a place where it could start a fire, and act­ing in a man­ner likely to cause fire, Western Cape po­lice spokesper­son Lieu­tenant-Colonel An­dré Traut said pre­vi­ously.

Mean­while, while some fires in the Over­strand area were still ac­tive early yes­ter­day morn­ing, these were largely re­ported to be in in­ac­ces­si­ble places such as high up on the On­rus moun­tain, and there ap­peared to have been no im­me­di­ate dan­ger to peo­ple or prop­erty.

Ac­cord­ing to the joint op­er­a­tions cen­tre for the fires, fire­fight­ers were not only be­ing de­layed by traf­fic con­ges­tion, but also faced poor vis­i­bil­ity from the smoke, and prob­lems with peo­ple fly­ing drones. — News24.

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