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Authorities to assess needs of residents affected by Knysna fire

Knysna authorities say they will conduct a full scale assessment of the needs of residents affected by the recent wildfires that have swept the area.

Firefighters keep flames from homes in Buffalo Bay, Knysna. Pictures: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN – The death of a Malawian woman has brought the total number of people who died in the Knysna blaze to seven.

The 30-year-old mother died in Tygerberg Hospital over the weekend due to burn wounds sustained last Wednesday.

Her three-year-old daughter’s charred body was discovered the following morning, on Thursday.

Knysna authorities say they will conduct a full-scale assessment of the needs of residents affected by the recent wildfires that have swept the area.

Officials spoke to the media on Sunday in the wake of the devastating fires that have seen about 10,000 people evacuated from their homes and that have claimed seven lives.

Over 1000 officials from various departments will be deployed to assist with relief efforts.

Knysna Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, says social media platforms, such as Facebook, will be used to help in directing relief aid towards residents in distress.

“We’ve contributions and donations streaming in and the challenge for us is to make sure that we manage that process. And also that goes to the correct people, those who really need it.”

Incident commander, Reinard Geldenhuys, says hotspot areas are being monitored to circumvent flare-ups.

“All the lines to the south of the N2 and nearby areas, the fires have been contained and we’re busy with mop up on those.”

Last night, firefighters attended to a blaze in the Damsebos area that caused heavy smoke in the town’s central area.

Infrastructure assessments will be rolled out in the community today, to record the specific needs of displaced residents.

WATCH: #Knysnafire: Today is the day

Some informal settlement residents say they have been targeted by criminals while in the process of evacuating their homes.

Sedgefield and Concordia were some of the high priority areas as firefighters battled several fires in the Garden Route on Sunday.

Two helicopters have been battling hotspots in the Concordia surrounding areas Sunday morning.

Some Concordia residents are standing outside their homes gauging aerial firefighting efforts.

One resident said some criminals exploit their vulnerability while they evacuate their structures.

“We take some stuff and put them on the road so they can be safe from the fire but some people, because we don’t have transport, [they steal them] and when we come back we find nothing.”

Brenton-on-Sea residents were evacuated to the Knysna High School on Saturday.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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