Knysna fires: Severe weekend fire risk warning

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A warning of conditions for a high fire risk over the weekend and the week ahead has been issued by Western Cape Disaster Management.

Up to 10 000 residents were forced to flee their homes in Knysna overnight as fires fuelled by storm winds ripped through the Western Cape coastal town. Photo: Deneesha Pillay/The Herald

“From tomorrow morning weather forecasts indicate gale-force wind to return‚” Colin Deiner‚ head of disaster management‚ said on Friday.

No fires should be lit in the Eden district for any reason.

He said the change in weather conditions was “very concerning” as it may cause the fire to flare up and may affect aerial operations.

“Starting any fire in the conditions expected tomorrow is a risk we cannot afford right now‚” Deiner added.

An estimated 85% of the firing line is currently contained through the efforts firefighters‚ the police‚ the army‚ Emergency Medical Services and CapeNature.

Measures taken to reduce the risk of more fires include:

* The 500 firefighters in the Eden district will remain there over the weekend.

* The South African National Defence Force and its three helicopters will remain there and‚ weather permitting‚ continue to water bomb the firing line over the weekend.

Residents in the district are urged to use as little water as possible because the shortage in Knysna is serious‚ said James-Brent Styan‚ spokesperson for Western Cape Local Government.

The Sedgefield desalination plant is operating at full capacity to alleviate the situation in the region “but is unable to provide water directly to Knysna”‚ he said.

In a bid to address water and sewerage problems in Knysna‚ local government has called for anyone with mobile generators with a minimum capacity of 30 kVa to get in touch with disaster management authorities in George.

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