NEWS
29/06/2018 06:40 SAST | Updated 29/06/2018 06:40 SAST

Lightning, Underground Fire To Blame For Knysna Blaze - Report

A new report suggests an underground fire started by a lightning strike was behind the massive 2017 fire.

News24

A lightning strike which ignited an underground fire was probably behind the Knysna fire which devastated the town in 2017, according to a new report. According to Times Select, the report, compiled by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The fire, which engulfed the town in June last year, is estimated to have displaced thousands and was the most destructive fire in a built-up area in the Western Cape in recent memory, according to the WC Disaster Management Centre said at the time.

Seven people were killed in the fire and over 1,000 homes were destroyed according to Eyewitness News (EWN).

In August last year, the Knysna fire chief, Clinton Manuel said there was no evidence that fire was started deliberately, News24 reported. Manuel reportedly said it was likely that pine cones fuelled the fire, which started on private land in the mountainous area of Elandskraal.

The new report could have wide implications for the municipality, according to Times Select. The report confirms findings by independent forensic expert David Klatzkow who reportedly found that the municipality knew the underground fire was ongoing but repeatedly ignored pleas by landowners to extinguish it.

The report reportedly says that according to "extensive" scientific evidence, including satellite footage, a lightning strike on March 22 in the Elandskraal area most likely started the fire.

A satellite reportedly first detected a 122-square-metre patch of dying vegetation was spotted by a satellite on March 29. It had grown exponentially by May 18, when it was visible by Google Earth images.

Strong winds on June 7 probably fanned the flames of the underground fire.

In August last year, the Knysna fire chief, Clinton Manuel said there was no evidence that fire was started deliberately, News24 reported. Manuel reportedly said it was likely that pine cones fuelled the fire, which started on private land in the mountainous area of Elandskraal/