09/06/2017 06:23 SAST | Updated 09/06/2017 06:23 SAST

Knysna Breathes A Sigh Of Relief As Fires Are Contained

Authorities have warned that the fires are still ongoing, but the worst appears to be over.

Fires raging at  Longmore Forest in Knysna, South Africa, on June 7 2017.
Werner Hills / Die Burger / Gallo Images
Fires raging at Longmore Forest in Knysna, South Africa, on June 7 2017.

Residents of Knysna and the Garden Route have breathed a cautious sigh of relief, as most fires appear to have been contained.

According to Independent Online (IOL), about 3 000 Knysna residents were evacuated when a series of about 26 fires broke out this week, destroying around 300 structures in the area. About 1 000 people were evacuated from neighbouring Plettenberg Bay, where around 30 homes were destroyed.

IOL reported that the Eden disaster management team had confirmed that there were no longer any runaway fires by late Thursday afternoon.

But Knysna municipal spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhout cautioned, "We are not out of the woods yet. Firefighters are still dealing with flare-ups."

Bitou municipal spokesperson Howard Swartz told IOL: "There are still places smouldering and there are flare-ups every now and again, but so far the fire seems to be under control. We are good for now, but if Mother Nature decides to take a turn for the worst, we could be back at square one again."

He reportedly said it was difficult to determine the cost of the devastation yet.

According to The Herald, the Knysna station commander of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Jerome Simonis, said the help of Knysna residents had been indispensable.

"Not a single NSRI station nationally did not offer to assist. The wind and the heat and speed of the fire were extremely tough. There was tremendous community spirit. Knysna is a close-knit community as it is, but you could feel the energy of everyone pulling together... Without a doubt, this is the worst fire I have ever seen. I hope I never see one like that again," he reportedly said.