NEWS

More Areas In Knysna Are Being Evacuated

Knysna municipality urged residents to use water sparingly as water infrastructure has been stretched to its capacity.

10/06/2017 12:56 SAST | Updated 10/06/2017 12:56 SAST
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More than 10 000 people were forced to flee their homes overnight as fires fuelled by storm winds ripped through the Western Cape coastal town.

Green Valley in Plettenberg Bay and Buffalo Bay next to Brenton-on-Sea was evacuated on Saturday morning as windy conditions complicated firefighting efforts in the area.

The suburbs were temporary evacuated as a precautionary measure, municipal spokesperson Fran Kristen said.

The George local municipality deployed five Go George busses assist with evacuations.

Social media reports suggest that Sedgefield has also been evacuated, but Knysna municipality denied evacuations taking place and said fires are being monitored in the area.

On Friday afternoon fires in the Eden district was 85% under control. Several flare-ups have however occurred on Friday evening and Saturday morning which was sustained by windy conditions.

In a statement, SANParks said winds of up to 42km/h were expected at 11:00 on Saturday morning.

Helicopters
Western Cape Local government spokesperson James-Brent Styan said an additional South African National Defence Force (SANDF) helicopter has been deployed.

Eleven helicopters have been deployed to the Eden District by Saturday morning with an additional helicopter from Working on Fire on its way to the area.

George municipality said fires caused no structural damage in the municipality.

Seriously ill patients from the Geneva clinic was evacuated to the Mediclinic due to serious smoke inhalation, but fires did not damage the clinic building, municipal spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose told News24.

Local authorities confirmed that 300 buildings have been destroyed by the fires since Wednesday and roughly 4 000 people remain displaced.

Knysna municipality urged residents to use water sparingly as water infrastructure has been stretched to its capacity.

The municipality was declared a drought disaster zone in May.

Kirsten said heat created by recent fires caused many pipes to burst and increased water leaks. She requested residents to reports leaks to the municipality by phoning 044 302 6300.

"Some residents have noticed the brown colour of the water. This is purely aesthetic and is still safe for use," Kristen said.

The municipality is also experiencing sporadic power outages due to kilometres of electricity lines destroyed.

The municipality appealed for donations of mattresses, sleeping bags, bottled water and sanitary products to be used specifically for the elderly people in the area.

Donation can be dropped off at DHL centres across South Africa.

News24 earlier reported that local police has not received any reports of missing people and encouraged residents to report missing people to police as soon as possible. Missing people can be reported to 044 302 6687 or 08600 10111.

Seven people have been arrested for looting following the blaze.

Local historian Phillip Caveney said the last time a fire of this magnitude hit the district was in 1869.

This type of blaze occurs in 150 year cycles, he said. -- News24

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