I awoke at 1:00 am this morning with a strong smell of burning in my nostrils. Eventually after tossing and turning for a couple of hours I dragged myself to the office and looked at everyone’s go to for instant news – Twitter and confirmed via the Mayor’s account (@AtholT) that Port Elizabeth was battling blazes. Homes in Colleen Glen and Maitlands area were under threat. Fire fighting teams responded to a large vegetation fire in the Greenbushes area as well as Van Stadens near Witteklip and the Bushbuckridge area.
More concerning of all was to read the news coming out of Knysna with reports from 702 saying:
At 19:15 on 7 June the Eden DMC received a call from the Acting Municipal Manager of Knysna indicating that he needs to evacuate the entire town and National resources would be needed.
This was communicated to the PDMC, unfortunately National resources cannot be deployed at this point in time, the activation of the SANDF could take a couple of days.
Knysna has a population of about 77 000 people, they were advised to liaise with the George Municipality to obtain Go George buses to assist with evacuation of the town as soon as access to the Town was possible form the West.
For the interim people are being moved by means of taxi’s and any possible transport to the Loerie Park area in the town.
The areas currently being evacuated include the following: Brenton, Belvedere, Welbedacht, Nania, Eastford, Green Pastures and Knysna Heights.
The fire has split in two main fronts, one affecting the Knysna Heights and CBD area and the second the Belvedere and Brenton area.
People from Belvedere, Brenton-on-Sea and Knysna Heights have evacuated their homes and are gathering at Knysna Yacht Club.
“These are the worst fires I have seen in the 45 years I’ve lived in Knysna‚” Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies said.
Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Athol Trollip said they were also tackling out-of-control fires due to gale-force winds in Nelson Mandela Bay, but once they have the manpower, they will be assisting Knysna.
— Athol Trollip (@AtholT) June 7, 2017
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.
At 12:00 am the Knysna Municipality reported that 17 Suburbs had been evacuated to 18 evacuation points across the greater Knysna Area.
Hampering the disaster management efforts were telephone lines that were down.
At 3:00 am the wind had died down with fires still not under control. Hotspots and sporadic flare-ups were still causing concern but extra fire fighting teams were beginning to arrive to assist.
According to Knysna-Plett Editor, Elaine King, who also had to evacuate her home, there are more than 100 people seeking shelter at the Knysna yacht club and more are streaming in.
This video was taken in the Belvedere area on Wednesday 7 June.
Various fires are raging in and around Knysna.
A fire driven by #capestorm rages on the Western Head of Knysna around homes and the Featherbed Nature Reserve.
Knysna fire catastrophe:
Airplane footage shows devastating Knysna fire from above
Community members and disaster management officials have joined firefighters as they battle blazes across Knysna. Many residents have lost their houses and many have had to evacuate their homes.
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.
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.
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.”
Local Government MEC Anton Bredell’s spokesperson James-Brent Styan said that there were about 26 fires around the Knysna area.
Three people were confirmed dead in Rheenendal according to Eden district municipality disaster management community services manager and spokesperson Gerhard Otto.
Another person was confirmed dead due to a heart attacked said to be induced by the conditions of the fires in the area.
A crowdfunding page has been set up to provide relief from the fires which have been ravaging the Knysna have brought the entire town to its knees, with many homes destroyed and hundreds of community members having to evacuate.
The GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/7zvnum-knysna-fire-relief) has been called Knysna Fire Relief, and they are asking any type of financial help.
The creator of the page, a woman called Natalie has ask for help, saying it is her duty to “stand up for this town I’ve called home for 34 years, to help rebuild a town that has lost schools most of our parents and even some of our grandparents went to, lost churches that unite communities, lost businesses that have survived economic hardships, lost homes that have housed generations, hosted children’s birthdays, accommodated visiting families and sleepovers.
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