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

2018-10-29 23:58
Outeniqua Pass on fire. (Supplied by Georgiete Staan Saam Facebook page)

Outeniqua Pass on fire. (Supplied by Georgiete Staan Saam Facebook page)

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"I have never been so scared in my life," said a George resident about a raging blaze that firefighters will battle throughout the night.

The fire claimed the lives of seven people in Bosdorp on Monday.

"I could feel the fire coming closer and closer," said Elsabé Basson.

"The fires will be fought throughout the night," said James-Brent Styan, the spokesperson for Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell.

He said the weather conditions have improved slightly, with the wind subsiding and a bit of drizzle falling.

READ: George wildfire death toll rises to 7

"We are hoping that the weather conditions will assist firefighting efforts into the evening and early morning."

Styan, who also confirmed that seven people had died as a result of the fire, said approximately 200 people have been evacuated to the George town hall and about 200 have been evacuated to a hall in Karatara.

"There will be further evacuations if needs be," he said.

"I only took our most important documents, medication, passports and a few clothes," said Basson about being evacuated from her home.

She explained that with the wind blowing towards the town, it led to smoke making the area dark from 15:00 already. "The smoke is suffocating, there is soot everywhere."

Basson said shortly after a prayer network was held at about 16:00, the wind turned and a few drops of rain fell.

Pregnant woman, baby, toddlers among those killed

Captain Malcolm Pojie said initially four people were reported dead and later it was confirmed that the fatalities increased to seven people.

Pojie said it was reported that a pregnant woman was among those who were later reported dead.

The Garden Route District Municipality had earlier said the wildfire in the Bosdorp community has claimed four lives.

"It is with great shock and deep sadness that we have been informed of four fatalities in the Bosdorp community due to the wildfire," the Garden Route District Municipality noted in a tweet.

It said that EMS reported that one adult, two toddlers and one baby died around 18:00.

The municipality had earlier said the fire was moving through Karatara, in the Kraaibosh area above Rheenendal.

It said three structures had burned down.

Rheenendal Fire Management Units have been activated, according to the municipality.

The George and Garden Route District municipalities stated in a joint statement earlier that there were ongoing active fires in George in the Outeniqua Pass area, reported News24.

In two areas close to the pass, the traffic department and police were aiding a precautionary evacuation.

"George Municipality is, as a precaution, evacuating residents in Blanco Golden Valley and Step-Aside," according to a municipal alert.

"We request people to move carefully and not to panic."

Over the last week, firefighters in the Western Cape have been battling blazes in Kosovo informal settlement, Khayelitsha, Overcome Heights in Vrygrond and along the Garden Route.


Outeniqua Pass on fire. (Supplied by Georgiete Staan Saam Facebook page)


Outeniqua Pass on fire. (Supplied by Georgiete Staan Saam Facebook page)


Outeniqua Pass on fire. (Supplied by Georgiete Staan Saam Facebook page)

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