JOHANNESBURG — Devastating fires in the Garden Route continued to rage over the weekend with flames reaching as far as Plettenberg Bay and Port Elizabeth. By Saturday evening, authorities said that most blazes were under control. However, the death toll has climbed to six while homes and lives have been destroyed. It’s only now that people in the area are starting to assess the damage and drone footage has highlighted just how much destruction has taken place. Were you impacted by fires – tell us your story by emailing us on this link – Gareth van Zyl
By James de Villiers, News24
Knysna – A 63-year-old man passed away in Concordia on Saturday afternoon, bringing the total fire-related deaths in the Eden district to six people.
News24 previously reported that a family of three passed away on Wednesday afternoon, a small boy died on Thursday morning and a firefighter was confirmed dead on Friday afternoon.
In a statement, Western Cape local government spokesperson James-Brent Styan said five people were also in a severe condition on Saturday afternoon after they suffered serious burnt woods during evacuations.
Gail force winds up to 97 km/h sustained several flare-ups on Saturday resulting in several suburbs being evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Most fires were however contained by Saturday evening after subdued wind conditions, Styan said.
One additional home in Brenton-on-Sea was destroyed due to fire flare-ups on Saturday afternoon, the Eden District municipality said in a statement.
The eleven aircraft grounded by strong winds on Saturday morning were able to take to the air late on Saturday afternoon.
Six helicopters from Working on Fire, one bomber fixed wing and three Oryx helicopters from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been deployed to the scene. An additional bomber fixed wing plane is expected to arrive from Nelspruit on Sunday.
Styan said the fire line in the Eden district on Saturday extended over an area of roughly 100 kilometres.
Weather conditions may improve during the course of Saturday evening improving firefighting conditions, he said.
No more rain
The South African Weather Services forecasted cloudy conditions for the Eden district on Sunday with north-westerly winds between 10 and 20 km/h. No additional rain is expected for the region following light rain on Saturday afternoon.
Over 200 informal structures and 408 formal structures have been confirmed damaged by the blaze. The Western Cape government said the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will be at Hornlee Hall, Masifonde library, Dam se Bos, Sedgefield and Karatara from Monday to Thursday to issue residents pension cars which might have been lost in the blaze.
— Diederick Stopforth (@DWStopforth) June 9, 2017