News / South Africa

Steven Tau
2 minute read
12 Jun 2017
5:06 am

Wet weather helps fight fires

Steven Tau

Firefighters have been battling for days to put out the fires, which have left many people homeless.

Fire rages in Plettenberg Bay. Picture: Jan Venter, Shutterspeed Images

It is still not clear when the raging fires that have been ravaging parts of the Western Cape will be completely extinguished.

Firefighters have been battling for days to put out the fires, which have left many people homeless.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, spokesperson for the provincial department of local government, environmental affairs and development planning James Brent Styan said: “One never knows when the strong winds will start blowing again, but we are optimistic that the situation will be brought under control, considering the fact that the weather conditions have somewhat improved with the continuation of wet weather.”

He said that, yesterday, 11 divisions of firefighters had again been deployed to areas affected by the fires and aerial support was also brought in, he said.

Since the fires started, 408 houses and other structures have been destroyed in the Plettenberg Bay and Knysna areas.

The death toll from the fires and the massive storms which gripped the province now stands at 11, with five of those recorded in the Cape area and six others, including a firefighter, from the Knysna area.

The situation became worse at the weekend following another cold front, which swept through the southern parts of the country.

Parts of the Eastern Cape were also affected by fires, which firefighters battled to bring under control. Nelson Mandela Bay municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the area around Van Stadens was a challenge, although “our fire fighters have made inroads to the areas that were inaccessible on Saturday”, he said.

Mniki said the Woodridge College suffered about 50% damage in the fire and inspections were already under way to ascertain the exact amount.

“Electricity outages continued in some areas and electricity distribution in two of our water pump stations has been cut due to fire damage,” he said. Meanwhile, in the Thornhill area, which falls under the Kouga municipality, two people lost their lives at the weekend.

“The reports of the deaths of the two people are devastating and the municipality sends out its deepest condolences to the affected families,” Mniki said.

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