Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:58 am

7 June 2017

Emergency services officials have begun evacuating parts of Knysna and other small towns‚ in the Western Cape as a massive fires raged late into the evening on Wednesday.

Western Cape Local Governance spokesman Jame-Brent Styan described the evacuation as “massive” but could not immediately give an estimate of how many people had been moved from their homes.

At least three people have died in the fires.

“These are the worst fires I have seen in the 45 years I’ve lived in Knysna‚” Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies said.

Firefighters responded to at least 26 fires along the Garden Route Wednesday as most of Plettenberg Bay‚ Knysna‚ Sedgefield and Wilderness were covered in smoke.

Eden disaster management boss Gerhard Otto said three people – a farm worker‚ his wife and their son – died in a fire in Rheenendal just outside of Knysna.

He said details around the deaths were still unclear but that all available staff had been deployed to deal with the fires including staff that had been on rest days.

By mid-morning about 13 houses had already been evacuated just outside Knysna towards Plettenberg Bay and the N2 between the two coastal holiday towns were closed due to low visibility.

Knysna municipal spokesman Fran Kirsten said further evacuations had been conducted in Belvedere‚ Brenton-on-Sea and Karatara outside Knysna.

Late on Wednesday‚ Welbedacht‚ Eastford‚ Green Passes and Knysna Heights were evacuated.

There has also been no power to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay for most of the day as a result of the fires.

Knysna fire chief Clinton Manual reported that four homes had been destroyed by flames.

He said there was very little hope of stopping the fire and they would just continue evacuating all those in its path.

At least 11 fire engines had been deployed to the area from neighbouring towns and the City of Cape Town.

Working On Fire reported that it had deployed over 120 fire fighters to the area.

Meanwhile‚ those in need of assistance may have difficulty contacting the local fire station as several people tweeted that phone lines were down.

http://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/top-ne ... ire-rages/

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:02 am

Army called in to help

The Garden Route was plummeted into chaos on Wednesday, as about 30 fires broke out across the region and Knysna residents were evacuated.

Knysna 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.

The SA National Defence Force has been called in to help stricken residents.

There had been no calls for a mass evacuation of Knysna where a fire was raging out of control, the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre (WDMC) clarified on Wednesday night

“While some areas in the town have already been evacuated, there is currently no call for mass evacuation of the entire Knysna,” a statement from the WCMD said.

By 11pm on Wednesday night, the areas of Brenton, Belvedere, Welbedacht, Nania, Eastford, Green Pastures and Knysna Heights had been evacuated.

“The officials on the ground are monitoring the situation and will inform locals timeously if and when additional evacuations become necessary. The officials on site will not hesitate to take every action required to keep citizens safe, the statement said.

“Evacuees are being taken to the Loerie Park area in town. There is shelter in that area. Further arrangements will be made when and if needed.”

Go George public buses were activated to provide mass transport services. At least 15 buses had been deployed to Knysna by 11pm.

The City of Cape on Wednesday night said its staff had been activated and would drive through the night to reach Knysna to assist the town’s firefighters. The City was deploying 27 firefighters, four bush fire tenders, two skid units, one major pump and a fire tender to the area.

Firefighters from surrounding towns were also deployed, while two fire trucks from the Overberg district were sent to the area. Twelve additional Working on Fire teams are expected in Knysna.

Aerial support had however been ruled out.

“Conditions include strong wind and lots of smoke which makes helicopter use not possible at present.”

The WCDM appealed to the public to rely on “established information channels” and urged people not to spread unconfirmed information as it could lead to panic.

“Whilst there are communications challenges, the town has established alternative communications measures to communicate with citizens.” – African News Agency (ANA)

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:06 am

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Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 11:59 am

From what we heard last night things were really bad there. Sounds like 200 or more properties were destroyed :-(

The wind is very strong here in PE at the moment and we've got a few fires in the area blowing smoke and ash everywhere, but nothing like the magnitude of Knysna... hopefully the wind will die down soon so they can get it all under control \O

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:39 pm

How do the fires start!

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:00 pm

Openserve asked us to volunteer to go help in Knysna and Cape Town, just waiting to see how many volunteers they can get -O-

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:39 pm

It looks really bad :-(

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:54 pm

Momprins says some fires start when the wind blows electric cables down, or in informal settlements. wind is a big culprit! @#$

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:18 pm

Rich, both my sisters live down there.
Them and BIL together and five dogs
found themselves sharing a little room
on Thessen Island for the night.

One sisters dwelling gutted the other,
down the road still intact. Total devastation
surrounding.

Re: Evacuations underway in Knysna as Garden Route fire rages

Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:27 pm

From what I can establish, the area known to be
where the Knysna elephants roam, still relatively
unaffected,..