19 January 2017

South Africa: Stilbaai Blaze Destroys Three Farmhouses

Wildfires have damaged three buildings in Stilbaai since Tuesday morning, while several homes have been evacuated, Working on Fire said.

While it tried to control the blaze, strong easterly winds of about 40km/h caused the fire to burn out of control, the organisation said in a Facebook post.

Western Cape Disaster Management chief director Colin Deiner told News24 on Thursday that Stilbaai had not been declared a disaster area.

Working on Fire however said a local disaster was declared on Wednesday.

"The Hessequa Municipality is in conversations with the province about declaring a disaster, but the area has definitely not been declared a disaster," Deiner said.

"There's a whole process that has to be followed to declare an area a disaster area. Declaring the area a disaster will not increase the resources to the area. I spoke to the incident command chief yesterday evening and told him that we will send more resources if needed.

"We are doing everything we can to fight the blaze," Deiner said.

According to the Hessequa municipality's Christine Pywuni, Stilbaai would have planned electricity disruptions for the whole of Thursday. It was affecting cellphone reception in the region as the batteries powering signal towers were running flat.

A total of 130 firefighters had been deployed to fight fires in Stilbaai. They were getting help from two Air Tractor bombers, two Huey helicopters, and a spotter plane.

Meanwhile, Paarl incident command spokesperson Marietjie Engelbrecht said fires in Hawequa had been brought under control. The area was being monitored as hot and windy weather could cause flare-ups.

Source: News24

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