Oh no, not fire again

2014-08-01 00:00

JUST when Mount Michael residents thought they would get a peaceful night’s sleep, the fire started again.

Exhausted residents in the area again spent about three hours on Wednesday night putting out veld fires threatening their properties.

It was just like the previous night when they fought fires for up to seven hours.

Again, they told The Witness they had to do it themselves because there were allegedly no firefighters to been seen.

Werner Ehlers (77) complained bitterly about the poor service they were getting from the local fire department.

“We handled three fires with garden hosepipes, which was exhausting and dangerous because they [garden hoses] are not meant for the job,” he said.

He said on Wednesday, just after 5 pm, they started putting out fires until 8 pm.

When they phoned the Howick fire ­department they were told that the fire engine was broken down.

“We then phoned the Pietermaritzburg fire department and they told us they were coming but never pitched,” he said.

Ehlers said this was unacceptable because they paid rates for the service and they expected to get it.

He said in Howick six years ago the fire engines had broken down and years afterwards they still had not fixed the problem.

If firefighters had arrived they would have handled the latest fire with relative ease, he said.

By the time the last fire was out, residents in the area had undergone a total of 26 stressful hours — at least 10 of which were spent actively battling the blazes.

Ehlers said about eight properties were endangered by the veld fires.

His wife, Petra, said the flames were up to four metres high at times.

Another resident, Peter Botha, said they hoped last night would be more peaceful.

By yesterday afternoon he said it was hoped that the area around the properties was all burnt and that no more fires would threaten them.

Msunduzi fire department and ­uMgungundlovu District Municipality, which is responsible for the area, were not available for comment.

Meanwhile, two fire engines were also sent to Pelham yesterday afternoon to fight a grass fire threatening homes.

The fire had burnt through large tracts of vegetation.

It jumped over Golf Road and burnt along both sides of the road towards the N3 and Washington Road.

Residents feared that large trees that caught fire would fall onto the road, cars or houses.

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