Southern Cape fires quelled after evening blaze

 Southern Cape fires quelled after evening blaze

19 August 2016

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South Africa — Fire fighters remain on high alert following a series of blazes in the Southern Cape that started on the evening of 11 August 2016. Another fire ignited near the George industrial area on 14 August 2016. Four houses were destroyed in Wilderness and damage is expected to run into millions of rand. Affected areas include Hoekwil, Heatherlands, Pacaltsdorp, Ruitersbos, Friemersheim and Moerasrivier. It’s been more than a week of hard work and sweat for fire fighters in the region as they battled to contain the fires. At least 27 fires have been recorded since 11 August 2016, fanned by strong berg winds. Most of the fires were contained.

George Mayor-elect, Melvin Naik, visited several areas to assess the damage. “There are people that have been displaced currently, especially the people that have stayed down in Wilderness. They are currently staying at the Wilderness Hotel and to those people we say “very thank you, for accommodating these families that have now been displaced’.”

Naik has advised residents to keep their backyards clean to prevent the spread of fires. “We would have started with precautionary measures, seeing that this is a fire season. However, we will put out notices for people to be very careful at this stage, especially in areas such as Wilderness, where people are staying in a bushy area, to clear around their houses just as a precautionary measure.” Affected residents refused to speak to the media. A trust fund has been set up for them. Fire fighters continued to monitor several hotspots in the region.

“Everyone came together to help to assist wherever possible,” said National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Wilderness station commander, Hennie Niehaus. NSRI volunteers assisted fire and rescue services that were deployed to fight the flames.

Fire fighting efforts saw emergency service teams including George and Wilderness fire and rescue services; South African Police Services, Western Cape Government Health Emergency Medical Services (EMS), disaster risk management, traffic services and fire teams worked together to battle the fires. Two helicopters were also deployed. Fire teams monitored the situation throughout the night and most of the fires were brought under control. No serious injuries were reported.

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