Fires keep Garden Route on weekend red alert

Witlessbos in Tsitsikamma
Witlessbos in Tsitsikamma
Image: Werner Hills

Another 100 firefighters are on their way to the Garden Route as fires that have been burning for around a week continue to threaten lives.

Nine people have been killed so far‚ and on Saturday morning Eastern Cape authorities said infrastructure and lives were under serious threat in Clarkson‚ alongside the N2.

A statement from the Garden Route District Municipality joint operations centre said Eastern Cape authorities had requested the assistance of a spotter plane and a firefighting helicopter.

Helicopters had also been sent to the Geelhoutboom area‚ west of George‚ and farmers there had been put on standby to evacuate their homes.

Fires had flared up in De Vlugt and villagers in Sonskyn Valley‚ near Hartenbos outside Mossel Bay‚ were also on standby for evacuation.

“Aerial resources are currently not available due to smoke‚” said the statement. “A South African National Defence Force Oryx will be dispatched to assist when possible.”

In Goudveld‚ flames were spreading around and between broken indigenous forest‚ and Protea Valley Bosdorp was being evacuated. “The fire line is extremely long and very difficult to contain‚” said the statement.

Working on Fire had called in 100 extra firefighters who were due to arrive in the area on Sunday‚ said the statement.

George was still blanketed in smoke‚ but a change in the wind direction on Saturday afternoon was expected to clear it.

The joint operations centre said firefighters urgently required supplies of Eyegene‚ Game sachets‚ lip ice and bread for sandwiches.