Following one of the worst storms to hit Cape Town, South Africa, in decades, gale-force winds fanned numerous wildfires across various towns to the west last week and into last weekend.
The wildfires burned over 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) along the “Garden Route” region of coastal South Africa, east of Cape Town. Spanning over 100 square kilometers (39 square miles), the wildfires from 7-11 June forced the evacuation of at least 10,000 residents in the hardest-hit town of Knysna and its surrounding suburbs. Thousands more were evacuated from neighboring towns in the region, including Plettenberg Bay, as various fires spread.
Unfortunately, 7 fatalities are attributed to the wildfires, including the death of Plettenberg Bay volunteer firefighter Bradley Richards. More than 400 structures have been lost in Knysna alone.
Over 1,100 firefighters from across the Western Cape Province engaged the fires, including firefighting teams from the South African based Working on Fire organization, which is related to the Kishugu Non-Profit Company’s FireWiseSA program.
From their Facebook page, Kishugu shared remarks by their CEO, George Slabbert. “Our heartfelt thanks go out to all our brave firefighters, both on the ground and in the air, who heeded the call to assist in battling these wildfires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends who are affected by this tragedy, particularly those who have lost their lives."
By Monday 12 June, all major fires were brought under control and the Western Cape Province cabinet is set to meet in Knysna on Wednesday to assess the loss.
Financial and material support to effected residents in Knysna and other towns has been robust. A Facebook page supporting the Knysna fires has additional live information about the recovery efforts.
Our thoughts go out to those effected by these fires and our hope for their strong recovery.
Photo Credit: GALLERY: Aerial pics of devastating Cape fires | News24
Video (Watch) link credit: WATCH: Knysna fires continue to rage | The Citizen