Volunteer firefighters to lend helping hand in Knysna

Johannesburg - A concerned citizen from Gauteng is rallying trained firefighters to be deployed in Knysna to help out with the raging fire that has crippled the town since Wednesday.

Diederick Stopforth woke up on Thursday morning and decided that tweets and Facebook posts won’t be enough to help the efforts underway in Knysna, where five people have been left dead and thousands have been displaced.

"We need action," said Stopforth.

"So I called my corporate contacts and a bunch of companies got on board."

Stopforth has called for a 100 trained firefighters with their own kit to fly down to Knysna on Friday to help combat the wildfires.

He said he already had 35 trained volunteers and that the prerequisite was that all the volunteers were trained firefighters and had their own firefighting gear.

Kulula Airlines have sponsored 100 return flights, with Engen South Africa, making their petrol stations drop-off points for food, clothes and blankets, while Skynet SA courier service will deliver all items to George.

Stopforth said he had been in contact with the Knysna disaster management team which could use the help of additionally skilled firefighters, equipment as well as food, clothes and blankets.

Stopforth has asked that anyone who wishes to help or donate to contact him via SMS and WhatsApp on 082 940 5508.

Gerhard Otto of Eden Disaster management, said that Stopforth had been in contact with him and that trained firefighters would be welcomed and put to use. 

The fire, which was still not under control by Thursday afternoon, has left up to 20 suburbs damaged and displacing more than 10 000 people, who were evacuated by Thursday afternoon. The fire has also spread to Plettenburg Bay and Buffalo Bay. 

Meanwhile, Knysna Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies told News24 that there was not an urgent need for more firefighters at the moment.

She added that 300 firefighters from Working on Fire arrived on Thursday morning and that there were teams that have come from Cape Town and the surrounding towns.

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