2 babies among 8 killed in devastating Southern Cape fires

2018-10-30 17:20
Tsitsikamma Road, Storms River. (Supplied)

Tsitsikamma Road, Storms River. (Supplied)

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Two babies were among the eight people killed in a fire at a house in Farleigh, Knysna, on Monday, Southern Cape police said, as efforts to bring the widespread blazes under control continued. 

Spokesperson Captain Malcom Pojie said on Tuesday that an inquest docket had been opened into the death of the eight people in the house, situated outside of town, which is north of George and Knysna.

The deceased were named as: 

Elsabe Windvogel, 42; Ethan Windvogel, 2;Eljade Windvogel, 12; Andrea Bewee, 21; Nalaya Oelf, 5; Niah Oelf, 3; Aliyah Oelf, 13-months-old;Nalani Oelf, 11-months-old.

"The Knysna police also opened an enquiry docket into the cause of fire," said Pojie.

Residents living in the Bibby's Hoek area, meanwhile, were sent an alert asking to evacuate.

The alert, issued at 13:07, urged residents to "prepare and evacuate", while seven firefighting units were on their way to the area.

Voluntary evacuations

Also on Tuesday, authorities reported that the N2 had been closed between Tsitsikamma Toll Gate and Storms River Bridge due to veld fires in the area, while the Montagu Pass remained closed. 

The Outeniqua Pass/Robinson Pass was open, but teams were clearing the debris from the fire and wind of Monday night. 

Motorists were cautioned to watch out for the possibility of falling rocks and trees, and to not stop on the pass to take photographs.

READ: Death toll in Southern Cape fires rises to 8, as evacuations continue

The fires around George, Seven Passes, Waboomskraal (where a backburn is planned), Fernridge, Blanco and Kraaibosch were all being managed, with no current threat to infrastructure or people. 

Regarding the fires in Uniondale, Noll and Haarlem, the wind direction was expected to be a strong westerly for most of Tuesday, with a welcome 6mm of rain predicted. 

The George bus service returned the remaining 78 people, who had been housed in the town hall overnight, to their homes in Blanco on Tuesday morning.

George municipality spokesperson Athane Scholtz said voluntary evacuations were taking place at Bibby's Hoek near Rheenendal. 

Power outages

"If the smoke is causing them health problems, or if they are elderly and prefer to move away, they can," said Scholtz.

Conville Clinic was providing normal services on Tuesday, and emergency services would take all patients to George Hospital. Blanco Clinic was also reopened.

There were also some power outages in the region. 

In Herolds Bay, Hoekwil, power was still off. Thembalethu Zone 9 was off due to a broken pole being replaced. 

READ:'I could feel the fire coming closer and closer', says George resident as firefighters aim to battle blaze throughout the night

Aerial support would be redeployed to attend to other fires in the region, with George as their base. 

Additional fires were also being managed by the teams at Karatara, Garcia's Pass, Opsoek near Zoar, Jonkersberg, Grootvadersbosch, Uniondale and Haarlem.

Donations of small bottles of water, juice, energy drinks, wet wipes, lip balm and rehydration mixtures can be taken to the George Fire Brigade in Mitchell Street, behind Outeniqua Primary School sports fields.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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