Fairview forest community evacuated as Knysna fires spread to plantation

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Fairview forest community evacuated as Knysna fires spread to plantation

Petru Saal | 2017-06-10 10:42:32.0

Raging fires in Knysna, South Africa.

Image by: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Werner Hills

An emergency evacuation had to be carried out at Fairview near Knysna on Friday evening as the fires that have engulfed the popular Garden Route town crept onto the small plantation comprising of farmers and workers.

The area is situated off the N2 between Knysna and Sedgefield.

John Kiewiets‚ 54‚ a double amputee was just grateful that no one left him behind and that emergency staff were able to get him to place of safety in time. “Thankfully they came to us in time‚ otherwise I don’t know what would have happened to us.” Ina October‚ 45‚ said that many didn’t wanted to evacuate because they didn’t want to leave their homes and were afraid of robbery.

Delia Beweë‚ 40 was one of the people who were reluctant to evacuate because she knew that when she returns to her home again that it may not be there. “I know that it is just a house but it is something I built up for many years and all I have‚” said a tearful Beweë.

Beweë was forced to send her six children to her mother who lives in a nearby town to get them out of harm’s way. “I am just hoping that we survive this. We are a tight knit family and for their safety I decided to rather get them away from the fires.”

Daphne Jantjies‚ 27 added that she is worried about the animals but there wasn’t time to take the animals with them. “This was the second time that we have been evacuated. It is a frustrating position to be in where we have to just leave our homes in the middle of the night.”

The forestry community was taken to Pina Lake Marine where they will be staying until the fires subside.

Knysna fire chief‚ Clinton Manuel said that 800 firefighters are working around the clock to bring the fires under control that have been destroying most of the Eden district this week. Three helicopters were water-bombing the area to bring the blaze under control.

The SANDF has also set up a medical facility on the Loerie Park. On Wednesday Knysna Provincial Hospital was evacuated. The building was spared by the fire but to prevent further medical complications caused by possible smoke installation the hospital was temporarily closed.

Fran Kirsten‚ Knysna Municipality spokesperson‚ said that all fires were being tended to and that flare-ups were their main concern. “We are aware that the wind will be slowly picking up again on Saturday and have the necessary plans in place.” Knysna is also a water scarce region and the fires have put tremendous pressure on an already strained resource.

“These fires have seen Knysna’s water infrastructure stretched to its capacity. Knysna was placed on Level 3 Water Restrictions during March and now‚ with the damage caused by the fires to the existing infrastructure‚ Knysna’s water situation is in crisis. The heat created by these fires has caused many pipes to burst and increased water leaks‚” said Kirsten.



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