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Zille visits areas ravaged by Knysna, George fires

Runaway fires in and around the Southern Cape town resulted in the evacuation of nearly 10,000 residents.

The fire in Knysna. Picture: Richard Wallis/iWitness

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is visiting fire-ravaged areas in George and Knysna on Thursday.

At least four people have been killed and as many as 10,000 have been evacuated.

Some people have also been forced to leave their homes in the Plettenberg Bay area as the fire spreads due to strong wind.

Runaway fires in and around the Southern Cape town resulted in the evacuation of nearly ten thousand residents.

Zille says she wants to go make sure all the victims are taken care of.

"We have a major crisis in the Southern Cape, many of the people who were evacuated from Knysna last night on buses from George, are now in George. And so I am going to make sure that everything is alright with the people there as far as possible."

Meanwhile, a manager of a Knysna fuel station says she feared raging fires would destroy the business.

“So it’s a horrific tragedy and I want to pay tribute to everybody who pulled together throughout the night. And South Africans are really amazing when it comes to a crisis, people were pulling together in the most amazing way. And I was especially concerned about poor people who have lost everything.”

Light rain is falling over the community which yesterday faced the fierce and destructive fire.

The owner of a main road filling station Shireen Nkosi says she hopes the wildfire will subside.

“We ended up closing the site down because clearly there was fear of the petroleum, I mean we had lots of explosions all around, gas explosions so this could have also exploded. We evacuated the station and made sure the staff is safe.”

Life is returning to a shopping complex where people are running errands which were delayed by the disruption caused by the devastating fire.

At the same time, a least 80 schools have been damaged by the severe storm across the Western Cape. Public schools were shut as a precaution. At least one Knysna school has been partially damaged by the runaway fire.

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)

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