Storm Wind Knysna Fire Western Cape

Storm Wind Knysna Fire Western CapeKnysna fire chief Clinton Manuel said that the fire was burning out of control and that emergency services had a “slim chance” of stopping the fire with the resources available. “We have evacuated areas in the path of the fire. Evacuated people to safe areas. The fire is running with quite a fast wind behind it. This wind is blowing very, very strong causing the fire to spread extremely rapidly,” he said.

“The idea is to evacuate areas further in the path of the fire to safer areas… Currently we have got all our resources deployed and we are being assisted by neighbouring municipalities and other organisations.” The areas evacuated on Wednesday night included, Brenton, Belvedere, Welbedacht, Nania, Eastford, Green Pastures, and Knysna Heights. He said that the fire was split in two — one affecting the Knysna Heights and the CBD area and the second affecting the Belvedere and Brenton area. It is reported that about 50 houses were burnt. The fires claimed the lives of three people, saw several homes destroyed, led to large scale evacuations, power outages and road closures. Most of Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Sedgefield and surrounds were covered in plumes of smoke for most of the day with the Knysna area worst affected.

The flames were fanned by gale force winds as a devastating storm swept over the Western Cape. Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies labeled the fires the worst in decades. By Wednesday night Eden District Disaster Management confirmed that firefighters had responded to 26 fires. Head of the unit Gerhard Otto said one of the fires, which broke out in the Rheenedal area outside Knysna, claimed the lives of three people. He said details around their deaths were however still unclear. Knysna fire chief Clinton Manual reported that four homes had been destroyed in the Knysna fires. Knysna municipal spokesman Fran Kirsten said that large scale evacuations had also been carried out Belvedere, Brenton-on-Sea and Karatara outside Knysna. Residents along Airport Road in Plettenberg Bay were also being evacuated as a precautionary measure due to a fire raging in the Kranshoek area just outside Plettenberg Bay towards Knysna.

Storm Wind Knysna Fire Western CapeThe N2 between the Plettenberg Bay and Knysna was closed due to low visibility early on Wednesday morning and Kirsten said it would remain closed until further notice. This after a fire broke out during the early hours of the morning in the Springveld area just outside Knysna off the N2. The municipality also deployed bulldozers in the area to keep the fire away from the road. Kirsten said the road between Brenton-on-Sea and Knysna as well as the road at the Phantom Pass in Rheendal had also been closed. She confirmed that there were several fires raging in the area including Karatara, Belvedere, Brenton-on-Sea and the Western Head in Knysna. These were all still out of control by late on Wednesday evening. Otto confirmed other areas affected included Kruis River in the Hessequa Municipality, in Herbertsdale near Mossel Bay, Touwsranten and Hoekwill near Wilderness.

The fire in Plettenberg Bay broke out at the Kranshoek Viewpoint area, burnt along the coast and then cut inland towards the Cairnbrogie Estate just off Plett’s Airport Road. Otto said that all available staff had been deployed to deal with the fires including staff that had been on rest days had been called in to assist. Working on Fire (WoF) teams have also been deployed to the area and so have about 60 firefighters from outside the district. “Unfortunately due to gale force winds no aerial support can be activated,” Otto said. The South African National Defense Force will however be contacted in an effort to obtain aerial support by means of an Oryx. There had also been no power to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay for most of the day as a result of the fires. – African News Agency (ANA)
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