Cooler temperatures bring hopes of end to devastating Southern Cape fires

2018-11-05 14:36
Fires rage in the Southern Cape. (Madri Stegmann Fotografie)

Fires rage in the Southern Cape. (Madri Stegmann Fotografie)

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There is cautious optimism that cooler temperatures and some rain will help firefighters end the blazes ravaging the Southern Cape, which have caused hundreds of people to be evacuated.

"Many lines have effectively been contained, but the long distances and accessibility of lines do make mopping up slow and difficult in places," said the Garden Route District Municipality's daily communiqué.

READ: Garden Route fire rips through 86 000 hectares - four times as much as 2017 Knysna fire

A cool 11°C and a wind speed of about 12km/h had given the hundreds of evacuees and 323 firefighters hope that the end is in sight, following a devastating 13 days.

The Monday morning briefing note said that 150 people from the Diepwalle community had been evacuated to the Hornlee Hall by SA National Parks as a precautionary measure while the fire passes through.

The 136 members of the Jonkersberg community evacuated on Sunday were expected to return to their homes on Monday.

READ: No end in sight for fires raging along Garden Route


Forty-two people from Goudveld were still being looked after at the Rheenendal community hall and 74 people from the Buffelsnek community had been moved to Wittedrift.

Cape Nature said that, while attending to fires in the Boosmansbos Wilderness Area, Garcia and Kruisriver, the decision was made to evacuate the Garcia community because of the fire threatening the Garcia Bosdorp community.

Fires rage in the Southern Cape.
Fires rage in the Southern Cape. (Madri Stegmann Fotografie)

Fires rage in the Southern Cape.
Fires rage in the Southern Cape. (Madri Stegmann Fotografie)

Sixty-five people were being housed in a hall at the Riversdale rugby stadium on Monday as a precaution until the fires passed or were contained.

Joint operations centres were also planning to replace some of the exhausted Incident Management Teams members with rested, fresh staff.

The cool rainy conditions would hopefully give some regional staff time to rest to be ready for predicted hotter weather this week.

So far no more injuries have been reported.

Garden Route District Municipality's head of disaster management Gerard Otto said the fire had burnt a width of 35km and a length of 180km.

Knysna's acting municipal manager, Johnny Douglas, expressed his extreme gratitude to everybody who had helped.

He mentioned the Gift of the Givers' relocation of 27 beehives to rescue two million bees under threat. The bees formed part of a programme after the 2017 devastation to help repollinate the scorched earth.

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