The Knysna Provincial Hospital was among structures in flames on Wednesday night as raging wildfires continued to spread through the Western Cape town‚ a local resident told TimesLIVE.
“The fire began on the one side but is now spreading to the other side of the town and the hospital is on fire. Basically the whole town is burning‚” said journalist and columnist Ivo Vegter.
At least three people have died in the fires.
“These are the worst fires I have seen in the 45 years I’ve lived in Knysna‚” said the town’s mayor‚ Eleanore Bouw-Spies.
Firefighters on Wednesday responded to at least 26 fires along the Garden Route as most of Plettenberg Bay‚ Knysna‚ Sedgefield and Wilderness were shrouded in smoke.
Earlier‚ Vegter had taken to Twitter as the scope of the catastrophe became clear.
“Knysna is burning down. This is a disaster of epic proportions. I’m stuck in fleeing traffic. Not sure I’ll have a home tomorrow‚” he tweeted.
Knysna is burning down. This is a disaster of epic proportions. I'm stuck in fleeing traffic. Not sure I'll have a home tomorrow.
— Ivo Vegter (@IvoVegter) June 7, 2017
Massive evacuations were under way‚ emergency officials said.
“The highways are closed in both directions but there is traffic inside the city as people are trying to make their way to the islands‚” said Vegter.
He was headed to the nearby Leisure Island.
While parts of Cape Town were earlier battered by a heavy storm‚ Vegter said there was no rain in sight in the Knysna area.
“We are only expecting rain tomorrow and even that won’t be enough to contain this. We are in deep deep trouble‚” he added.