No end in sight for fires raging along Garden Route

2018-11-03 18:30
Fires in George. Jonkers Mountain is burning. (Elsabé Basson)

Fires in George. Jonkers Mountain is burning. (Elsabé Basson)

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Residents from different areas across the Garden Route have been evacuated as a precaution as fires continue to rage, officials said on Saturday afternoon. 

The evacuations took place in Jonkersberg, Bosdorp, Sonskyn Vallei village, Rheenendal, Buffelsnek and Protea Valley bosdorp in the Goudveld.

Around 300 people were on alert for a possible evacuation in Diepwalle later on Saturday.

"High temperatures have made the work for the crew on the ground more difficult," said George Municipality spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose.

She said an additional 100 firefighters from Working on Fire were in the process of assisting, while teams from the Cape Winelands, West Coast and Overstrand would arrive later on Saturday.

READ: George wildfire death toll rises to 7 - pregnant woman, baby, toddlers among those killed

Power was restored to Step Aside and Hillcrest Farm by Saturday afternoon, with flare-ups in this area contained.

According to the Garden Route District Municipality Joint Operation Centre (JOC), ground teams were monitoring the N9 freeway.

In Bitou, the fire had gone past the Buffelsnek plantation and was en-route to Heuningbos Plantation. In Goudveld, the fire was spreading in a southerly direction around and between broken indigenous forest. Fire lines were still active.

SANParks had ground teams in place. 

Smoke remains hovering above Gorge with the wind direction expected to turn this afternoon after 2pm to SE and moderate (9km per hour) and it is expected to push smoke away.

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

Both lanes at the Outeniqua Pass were open to traffic. Motorists were advised to drive cautiously and reduce speed due to rockfalls and falling trees.

The JOC applauded those who had donated to their firefighters. It asked that people please assist with donations of Eyegene, Game sachets, Zambuc or lip ice and loaves of bread for sandwiches (No peanut products because of allergies).

Financial donations can be made to the George Municipality bank account at ABSA, cheque account Number: 01022220981, branch code: 632005, with the reference 'Fire/Disaster'.

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