Wednesday night in Knysna saw “the worst fires” mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies says she has seen in the 45 years that she’s lived in the Garden Route town.
Firefighters responded to at least 26 fires along the Garden Route on Wednesday with most of Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Sedgefield and Wilderness covered in smoke. At least three people have died in the fires – Eden disaster management head Gerhard Otto said a farm worker, his wife and their son have died in a fire in Rheenendal, just outside of Knysna.
— jody jacobs (@jody_jacobs) June 8, 2017
About 13 houses just outside of Knysna towards Plettenberg Bay had already been evacuated by mid-morning. The N2 between the two holiday towns was closed due to low visibility.
Municipal spokesman of Knysna, Fran Kirsten said further evacuations had been performed in Belvedere, Brenton-on-Sea and Karatara outside Knysna. Welbedacht, Eastford, Green Passes and Knysna Heights were evacuated late on Wednesday. Fires are now travelling along the southern coast, all the way to Plettenberg Bay.
— Pretty Messy Mellon (@Mel_delaCroix) June 7, 2017
— VWS Wildfires (@vwsfires) June 8, 2017
Knysna fire chief, Clinton Manual said that four homes had been destroyed by the fire and that their was very little hope of stopping the flames and they would just continue evacuating all those in its path.
Those in need of assistance may have trouble contacting fire stations, several people have tweeted that phone lines were down.
FIRE STATIONS PHONE LINES DOWN
Due to the extensive fires the electricity and phone lines in the CBD are currently down.#KnysnaFire
— Platinum Gold News (@PlatGoldNews) June 7, 2017
A helping hand is being extended to those affected by the Knysna fire with take-away restaurants providing food to those affected and in need.
— Angelique Shekleton (@Ang_Sheks) June 8, 2017
Roads have been closed off as fires rage through the Knysna area. Kirsten said that residents living the Knysna Heights area were being asked to leave their homes on Wednesday night.
“We asking those residents and residents between there and all the way to the CBD to evacuate their homes and make their way to the Loerie Park sports field, where they will be met and fed so we can try and fight the fires and save their homes,” she said.
Go George buses had arrived in Knysna late on Wednesday night to assist with the evacuation. Knysna’s mayor had called for the town of 77-thousand people to be evacuated as wildfires continued to ravage the area. Apparently more than 50 houses have caught fire.
— Snazo Gulwa (@Snazo_Gulwa) June 7, 2017
Residents were also being transported by taxis and other forms of transport to the Loerie Park area in town.
Help is available
Thesen Island Homes have opened their homes to all who need shelter tonight. They are able to accommodate 30 people. Contact them on +27 82 450 6917
Remi Eksteen, also in Thesen Island, is offering help too. Contact them on +27 82 652 0296
Dr Deidre Richman has also opened her doors to those who need assistance. Contact her on +27 82 923 5174
Knysna Yacht Club have also opened their doors to fire victims.
A drop-off point for the collection of food, water, energy drinks etc will be established at the Eden George fire station.
The City of Cape Town confirmed that they have dispatched 8 fire tenders as well as 20 firefighters to assist Knysna with fighting the wildfire.