NEWS

Knysna Evacuated As Fires Rage On

Three people have died and firefighters have little hope of extinguishing the 26 fires ravaging the southern coastal town and surrounds.

08/06/2017 05:57 SAST | Updated 08/06/2017 09:56 SAST

At least three people have died in the Knysna fires raging through the coastal town, while hundreds have been evacuated. Firefighters reportedly responded to at least 26 fires on Wednesday night.

Knysna fire chief Clinton Manual told reporters that there was little hope of stopping the fires and that emergency services would continue evacuating anyone in their paths. In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Knysna municipality tweeted that the fires were still not under control.

Western Cape local governance spokesperson James-Brent Styan told The Times that an evacuation of the town's 77 000 residents was under way, but it was unclear how many people had been evacuated. By mid-morning on Wednesday, 13 houses had reportedly been evacuated.

The Times reported that the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre evacuated residents from areas including Belvedere and Eastford, but that there was no call for the evacuation of the whole of Knysna.

A farmworker, his wife and son reportedly died in a fire.

The N1 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay was reportedly closed owing to low visibility as a result of the smoke, while both towns were without power for most of the day.

According to The Herald, the Knysna Provincial Hospital caught fire and more than 50 houses burnt down.

Buses were reportedly sent from George to assist in evacuation efforts.

George municipal spokesperson Chantal Edwards-Klose told The Herald that Telkom and other cellular networks were down, making communication in the area difficult.

The City of Cape Town sent eight fire engines and 20 firefighters, while Working on Fire sent 120 firefighters to the area, The Herald reported.