GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - At least 5 people have died in the Knysna fires which are still not under control, while damage to property is beyond calculable at this stage.
3 People, a man and his wife and their son, died in Rheenendal yesterday, June 7, when they could not escape the flames.
A four-year-old girl was found dead by her father this morning, Thursday May 8, in Welbedaght. There are no further details about this death.
An elderly man who lives in Brenton had a heart-attack and died yesterday.
At this point no other deaths have been reported to the police, but an update will follow.
Sergeant Chris Spies, who came to the offices of the Knysna-Plett Herald at 10:52 said patients from the Knysna provincial hospital were evacuated last night and are now being looked after at Loerie Park in the squash courts, ablution facilities and the club house.
Spies said that 21 emergency centres would be set up and he would keep us posted off all the venues as soon as he could.
In the meantime, Spies has advised homeless people to go to community halls in Chris Hani, Khayalethu, Loerie Park and an area which has been set up just behind Mitchell’s Brewery in Waterfront Drive.
The other emergency centre details will follow as soon as Spies has confirmation.
Fire chief Clinton Manuel, who spoke to the Elaine King says the Knysna fires are still not under control, but the rain which is now falling will help and additional resources are onboard.
Firefighters from Cape Town, the Overberg, Overstrand, George, Oudtshoorn and all of Knysna’s fire-fighting teams are working with Working On Fire (WOF), including the Southern Cape Fire protection services.
In an interview, Manuel said although the N2, Main Road, was now open, he warned people to drive very carefully because of the thick smog.
Roads to Rheenendal and to Brenton are still closed.
Manuel said the fire-fighting operation had been broken into six sectors to make it more manageable.
They are Elandskraal which includes Karatara and Rheenendal, the Concordia sector which includes all the Northern areas like White Location, Dam-se-Bos, the Pezula sector which includes Fernwood, Hunter’s Home and Hornlee, the Belvidere Centre which includes Brenton-on-Lake and Brenton-on-Sea and Buffalo Bay.
A town sector has also been allocated which includes areas from Pezula to Eastford, Welbedaght to Knysna Heights.
The sixth sector is Kruisfontein which includes areas out of town towards Plettenberg Bay.
Manuel’s plea was for the public to please not even try phoning the municipality fire services number as the number of calls is inundating and causing the entire phone system to crash.
A regular follow-up would be given to the Knysna-Plett Herald he said.
Many small shops are closed in Knysna, Checkers is only allowing five people into the store at one time owing to a staff shortage. Big shops like Pick n Pay and Food Lovers are open.
The damage to homes and institutions will become clearer during the course of the day, but it is known that Oakhill School was affected by the fire.
More information to follow as it becomes available.
ARTICLE: ELAINE KING, KNYSNA-PLETT HERALD EDITOR
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