#KnysnaFire: Second firefighter dies bringing death toll to six

Firefighting efforts in Knysna and surrounding areas have now entered the fifth day.

One of the volunteer ground crew conducts a clean-up operation in one of Knysna’s plantation forests. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Another volunteer firefighter has lost his life in Knysna inferno.

The 63-year-old John Blaauw died during firefighting efforts in Concordia on Saturday.

Earlier this week, 24-year-old Bradley Richards also died as a result of extensive burn wounds sustained during firefighting efforts.

Six of these deaths have been recorded in the Eden District, because of the runaway fire that has caused destruction in various towns, including Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

Knysna Executive Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies said, “We would like to extend our condolences to the firefighter who lost his life yesterday and we will be visiting the manager today.”

The Western Cape Local Government Department says weather conditions have improved in areas affected by a wildfire in the Southern Cape.

Firefighting efforts in Knysna and surrounding areas have now entered the fifth day.

The runaway fire has gutted hundreds of formal and informal structures and claimed at least eight lives.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.

The Western Cape Local Government Department’s James-Brent Styan says 11 disaster-related deaths have been confirmed across the Western Cape.

Five other fatalities were caused by the storm that lashed parts of the province earlier this week.

The blaze that spread to parts of the Eastern Cape has also claimed two lives in that area.

An elderly couple from Thornhill has died after sustaining burns at their farm on Saturday.

This brings the total death toll in the storm and fire disasters to 13.

ASSESSING DAMAGE

Some evacuated residents are returning to their properties to assess damage done in the Knysna firestorm.

Several communities in the Garden Route town and surrounding areas were evacuated on Saturday as fires raged out of control.

Officials say the fire line across the Eden District spans roughly 100 kilometres.

Residents in Knysna and neighbouring communities have been unrooted in the wake of fierce fires that have engulfed the region in the past few days.

Several houses were damaged in Brenton-On-Sea on Saturday.

One resident, Helen steenkamp says they were evacuated for a second time on Saturday.

“I’ve just spoken to my friend… they managed to find shelter on Saturday night. Their house burned down and the old lady who lived there has been left with nothing, not even clean cloths. They haven’t showered for six days, it’s terrible.”

Fires currently raging in Sedgefield remain a concern for firefighters and nearby communities.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)