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Knysna Municipality extinguishes wildfires rumours

Officials are giving an update on a report into the origin and probable cause of the Southern Cape wildfires.

FILE: Fire crews battle flare-ups in the Knysna mountains using both helicopters and ground teams. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Knysna Municipality says it has called a media briefing to correct false information that the June wildfires were started deliberately.

Officials are addressing media at the Knysna Council Chambers to give an update on a report into the origin and probable cause of the Southern Cape wildfires.

CSIR experts worked with the fire department to look into the blaze which killed seven people and destroyed over 400 properties.

Municipal Manager Kam Chetty said: “The report will try to be as scientific as possible and in it, we try to be as professional as possible to show you how we arrived at the conclusions we did.”

The probe into the wildfires is unable to declare whether the fires were started deliberately, but it has found the fires were most likely caused by human activity.

It has found the fire originated in the town's Elandskraal area and that human activity was the most likely the cause.

Knysna Fire Chief Clinton Manuel says this does not mean the fire was started deliberately.

“I cannot say the fire was set deliberately. What we do know is that people set fires for various reasons but we cannot at this stage say that the fires were deliberate, by accident, or a controlled fire that got out of control.”

The total damage to public infrastructure was close to R500 million.

GALLERY: Knysna fires