11 January 2019

South Africa: Western Cape Fires - Rain Helping Firefighting Efforts After Strong Winds Fanned Overstrand Fires

Heavy rain has started to fall in the Western Cape's Overstrand area where strong winds have affected firefighting efforts against three separate fires in Franskraal, Betty's Bay and Karwyderskraal.

Chief fire officer in the Overstrand municipality Lester Smith told the SABC on Friday evening that the blaze was out of control.

"The operation is very difficult due to strong winds making it very difficult to fight the fire," Smith explained.

The Overstrand Herald reported that three houses had burned down in Betty's Bay.

The flames had jumped the R44 earlier, Netwerk24 reported.

"Several structures have been damaged. We hope to have more details available soon," the Overstrand municipality added.

"We lost some power lines in this fire and as a result some areas are without electricity. We will continue with firefighting throughout the night and get more resources, all local authorities and stakeholders are on site."

By Friday evening firefighters had evacuated parts of all three areas, and members of the public were urged to avoid those areas for the duration of the firefighting efforts.

We ask the public avoid the following areas: #KarwyderskraalFire #BettysBayFire & #FranskraalFireIt is imperative that emergency vehicles are allowed through. If you live in the area, consult your local emergency services/municipality for assembly points. Call 107 if unsure. https://t.co/Map1N0RUi5-- VWS Wildfires (@vwsfires) January 11, 2019

"We are aware that certain areas are experiencing power outages. This [is] being attended to," the Overstrand municipality assured residents through its Facebook page.

While some residents have been evacuated, the residents of Hemel en Aarde Estate have been asked to remain on standby until further notice.

Earlier on Friday, Franskraal residents were ordered to evacuate.

The municipality, which is approximately 90km away from the Betty's Bay area, issued an emergency warning around lunchtime, warning residents that the fire was out of control and spreading fast.

"Overstrand municipality has designated the Gansbaai tourism office hall as your emergency evacuation centre. The evacuation centre is located at: Great White Junction (SPAR Centre), Main Road, Gansbaai," read a message from the municipality.

Residents were ordered to gather family members loved ones, pets and only essential items. They were also asked to bring along essential medication, turn off all appliances and lights and lock their doors.

The following halls are available for use by those who have been evacuated: Grobbelaar Hall, Moffat Hall in Mount Pleasant, Gansbaai tourism hall, Sandbaai Hall and Crassula Hall.

Source: News24

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