Firefighters still battling Southern Cape fires

One blaze started in the Outeniqua mountains last week. Fanned by strong winds the flames reached the outskirts of George forcing evacuations.

The aftermath of a fire which destroyed 13 houses in Farleigh Forest in Karatara in the Southern Cape on 30 October 2018. Picture: Monique Mortlock/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Firefighters are still battling wildfires raging in parts of the Southern Cape.

One blaze started in the Outeniqua mountains last week. Fanned by strong, winds the flames reached the outskirts of George forcing evacuations.

A separate one broke out closer to Knynsa; it's claimed the lives of eight people in the Karatara area near the town.

Western Cape Disaster Management’s Colin Deiner said: “So, overnight we had very strong winds and those two fires have now joined, so we now have a larger fire front at this stage.”

As one drives into George, smoke can be seen billowing on a fire line stretching for several kilometres on the Outeniqua mountains above the city.

Provincial Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell says there seems to be no stopping this wildfire.

“Currently the weather conditions are not in our favour, there are strong wings in the George area and last night we had lightning… so the firefighters have had their hands full. Yesterday we’ve lost 16,600 hectares of land. Today we’ve lost 48,000 hectares.”

About 600 people have had to evacuate from nearby Rheenendal.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)