Veld fire smoke causes nine-vehicle pile-up

CRASH SCENE: This was the aftermath of a multiple vehicle accident on the N2 near Hougham Park yesterday after smoke from a veld fire reduced visibility Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
CRASH SCENE: This was the aftermath of a multiple vehicle accident on the N2 near Hougham Park yesterday after smoke from a veld fire reduced visibility
Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Six people, including a baby, were taken to hospital for treatment yesterday after a nine-vehicle pileup in thick veld fire smoke on the N2 at Hougham Park, Port Elizabeth.

The highway was closed and traffic diverted for several hours as emergency services worked at the accident scene.

Smoke from the fire on the seaward side of the highway blew across the road, cloaking everything in a thick grey fog.

The crash occurred when a bakkie travelling towards Port Elizabeth ran into the back of a Toyota Fortuner which had slowed down due to poor visibility, traffic officer Zwelani Mazoko said.

A cement truck then smashed into the bakkie and six more vehicles followed, each ramming into the back of the next.

A Toyota Venture was hit so hard it spun clear off the road.

Near the back of the pile-up, a shaken Mike Rex, of Rex Freight, stood next to his bakkie, saying: “I’m all right but the bakkie’s a write-off and it’s not insured.”

Francois van der Berg, of Pennyfarthing, was first on the scene and immediately called ambulance and breakdown services.

“There was a lady sitting in the wind on the side of the road with a baby,” he said.

“It was struggling for breath, so I sat her in my vehicle until an ambulance came.”

Six people were eventually taken to hospital for treatment, including the baby, who was put on oxygen.

Traffic officer Yolisa Gcezenga said the baby had no visible injuries, and the other five people had suffered slight injuries.

Mazoko said: “When you see smoke from a long way off, surely you must first slow down?”

Greenbushes fire station commander Marius Meintjes and his crew were called in to fight the blaze and reduce the smoke.

The N2 was clear by 2.30pm

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