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In The News South Africa

Conditions optimistic for Eden district and Knysna fires as weather improves along Garden Route

KNYSNA, June 11 – The outlook was optimistic on Sunday morning regarding the devastating Eden district and Knysna fires as weather conditions improved along the Garden Route, the Western Cape government said in an update on the situation.

“Firefighters hit the ground running this morning [Sunday] as day five of the Knysna fire dawned,” local government MEC Anton Bredell’s spokesman James-Brent Styan said.

As cooler weather prevailed early on Sunday fire commanders pushed to contain the fires around Knysna. A wide range of firefighting agencies were dispatched from the incident command centre in the Knysna municipality, working closely with the Eden district disaster management centre, he said.

On Saturday night, divisions held the line – holding the flames back – to protect the village of Rheenendal and the Wit Lokasie settlement. Both areas were under threat during Saturday’s gale-force winds. Brenton-on-Sea was hit hard on Saturday with several more houses damaged.

Firefighting aircraft – both water-bombing helicopters and fixed-wing spotter planes – were airborne shortly before 9am on Sunday as the morning fog and smog lifted. With wind speeds dropping conditions were improving for aerial support.

“The total fire line still stretched to more than 100km between Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay, and the latest hotspots were identified for concerted attack this morning [Sunday]. Fortunately, the injuries to five fire-fighters reported yesterday [Saturday] have been confirmed as minor,” Styan said.

Confirmed fatalities at this stage for the Eden district was six, including one firefighter.

Fire commanders confirmed that no losses had been suffered in Buffel’s Bay, and some fires on Saturday were deliberate “back-burns” to protect the town from runaway flames. A fire in the vicinity of Sedgefield remained a concern on Sunday, he said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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