Mopping-up starts in Tsitsikamma

2018-11-08 06:00
BrandPhoto: CISKE VORSTER

BrandPhoto: CISKE VORSTER

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MOPPING-UP operations are underway in the Tsitsikamma following two weeks’ of devastating blazes in the region.

By yesterday morning 80% of the fire had been contained, following intensive efforts by ground and air crews on Tuesday to put out all hot spots and construct fire lines in areas of concern.

Light rain also assisted fire suppression efforts this week, said Working on Fire’s (WoF) Ground Operations Manager in the East Cape, Antoinette Jini, in a Facebook interview.

According to WoF, the first fire started on October 23 in the Lottering area. It was contained and declared safe five days later, just to be followed by a second series of fires, caused by lightning between Stormsriver and Clarkson on October 29.

Extreme weather conditions hampered fire suppression efforts, with further lightning fires starting at Coldstream and Kareedouw on November 4.

By Sunday almost 400 fire-fighters from across South Africa were on the ground, with the focus on keeping communities at Clarkson, Stormsriver and Coldstream safe from the flames.

Early indications are that the fire burnt an estimated 16 390 hectares of catchments and plantation while the total number of people affected were more than 12 500, WoF said in a statement.

While serious damage was caused to plantations, water infrastructure and fence lines, no fatalities or serious injuries were reported.

Structural damage was also caused to the walkway and lookout tower at the Stormsriver Petro Port.

Mopping up operations are expected to continue for the next week, WoF said, with teams also still monitoring smouldering areas at Diepwalle, Kransbos and Jonkersberg yesterday.

In addition to WoF teams from across the country, municipal firefighters from Koukamma, Kouga, Makana, Ndlambe, Blue Crane Route, Sarah Baartman and Nelson Mandela Bay assisted with the massive operation.

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