Devastating #KnysnaFires started by someone - AS IT HAPPENED

2017-08-14 13:39

Although the catastrophic fires that raged through Knysna was ignited by someone, there is no detail on whether the blaze was started deliberately, according to a report.

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Last Updated at 04:54
14 Aug 15:54

There was no evidence that the devastating fires in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in June were set deliberately, according to Knysna Fire Chief Clinton Manual.

''I cannot say that the fire was set deliberately,'' said Manual as the report into the fire which killed seven people and destroyed at least 1000 houses was released.

Scientific analysis showed that the fire probably started with pine cones in a clearing on private land in a mountainous area called Elandskraal.

There are no pine trees in the area, but there was a footpath and an access road, which indicates human activity at the clearing.

''The probable cause comes down to that pine cone,'' said Manual.


14 Aug 15:31

Here is a breakdown of some of the estimated costs relating to the fire in Knysna:

Damage to health infrastructure: R1.3m

Agriculture: R40m

Human settlement: R61m 

Water: R91m

Environmental damage: R134m

Transport and public works: R8m

Social development: R25m

The media briefing has ended.


14 Aug 15:21
Chetty: The matter will be raised with the police to possibly investigate it further.

14 Aug 15:20

Manuel gives clarity:

Human activity - the fire was started by somebody. However, one can't say if the fire was started deliberately.


14 Aug 15:18
Chetty: There is a very high degree of probability that human activity played a role in the fire that raged through Knysna.

14 Aug 15:03
A report on the devastating fires that raged through Knysna found that the blaze was started by someone.

14 Aug 14:58
He is explaining how different wind patterns could have impacted the fires. 

14 Aug 14:56
Data shows wind speed of 20-40km/h from south south-west from as early as 01:09

14 Aug 14:50

14 Aug 14:49

Two theories at play during investigation:

1) Fire started in the non-V area and caused by lightening.

2) Fire started in V-pattern area and is possibly man-made.


14 Aug 14:44
Pine cones sometimes get used as firelighters.

14 Aug 14:43
Pine cones were found in that area.

14 Aug 14:42
There are signs that people were possibly present at the so-called inaccessible area where one of the fires started.

14 Aug 14:39

14 Aug 14:37
Manuel, in his presentation, is giving some background on the fire, making use of graphs and images.

14 Aug 14:32
In the email correspondence from Morris he indicated that the area where the fire started is quite inaccessible.

14 Aug 14:29
First fire was reported on 7 May. A Ritchie Morris snapped pictures that were sent to Manuel.

14 Aug 14:26
Manuel: Weather patterns are significant in determining the cause of fires

14 Aug 14:25
Manuel: Initially, no helicopters could fly because of strong winds.

14 Aug 14:24
Manuel: There were 3 fires on 7 June.

14 Aug 14:22
Clinton Manuel, chief fire officer, is giving some history fire-fighting capacity in Knysna. 

14 Aug 14:21
You can watch the briefing live here:

14 Aug 14:18
Kam Chetty, municipal manager, is now speaking.

14 Aug 14:16
Executive Mayor Eleanour Bouw-Spies has thanks all those who helped to rebuild Knysna.

14 Aug 14:14
A number of lessons have been learned. The Knysna municipality will be responding differently to fires going forward.

14 Aug 14:12
Efforts to rehabillitate the the lives of people and the environment is ongoing.

14 Aug 13:56

14 Aug 13:54

Knysna victim discovers life-changing note in donated jacket

A hand-written note in a jacket pocket has changed the life of Quentin Haman, a victim of the Knysna fires.The leather jacket was donated by Inge Coetsee, a benefactor from Pretoria and eventually landed up with Haman, Netwerk24 reported.


14 Aug 13:48

Knysna fire led to largest deployment of firefighting resources in SA history - authorities

The Knysna fires led to the largest deployment of firefighting resources and personnel in a single incident in South Africa's history.

Western Cape disaster management and fire rescue services chief director, Colin Deiner, said the following were deployed to battle the blaze:

985 fighters,

78 fire vehicles,

6 Oryx military helicopters,

4 Working on Fire helicopters and

2 fixed wing bomber aircraft

He called the deployment of resources the biggest success of provincial disaster services.


14 Aug 13:40

The Knysna municipality will release a report at 14:00 on the fires that killed seven people and damaged or destroyed at least 1 000 homes in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

The report is expected to shed some light on how the fires started. They raged between June 6 and 10 and were fanned by gale-force winds.


14 Aug 13:38

Where is the crowd-funding for the destitute?

It didn't take long for South Africans to start crowd funding for the families affected by the fires in Knysna, offer their homes and start Facebook groups to help find people who went missing in the chaos. These acts are to be admired and it probably made things a little easier for those who lost their homes to the fires.

But the efforts are slightly skewed.

Where was the crowd funding or private sector to offer time, money or blankets to our brothers and sisters in Mfuleni or Lavender Hill, who just hours before the fires in Knysna, also lost everything?


14 Aug 13:37
Have a look at this gallery for some images on the blaze

14 Aug 13:31
Members of the public and businesses also open their hearts by donating clothes, blankets, food and other essential items towards victims of the tragic fire.

14 Aug 13:27

The burning question:

There were questions about whether the fires were started deliberately, and it is hoped the report could shed some light on this.

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