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Newsdeck

Cooler temperatures bring hopes of end to devastating Southern Cape fires

Burnt down homes at Overcome Heights, Capricorn after raging fires ripped through the area on October 26, 2018 in Muizenberg, South Africa. Several people were left homeless after more than 500 homes were gutted down by fire that started in the late hours of Thursday. (Photo by Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

There is cautious optimism that cooler temperatures and some rain will help firefighters end the blazes ravaging the Southern Cape, which have caused hundreds of people to be evacuated.

“Many lines have effectively been contained, but the long distances and accessibility of lines do make mopping up slow and difficult in places,” said the Garden Route District Municipality’s daily communiqué.

A cool 11°C and a wind speed of about 12km/h had given the hundreds of evacuees and 323 firefighters hope that the end is in sight, following a devastating 13 days.

The Monday morning briefing note said that 150 people from the Diepwalle community had been evacuated to the Hornlee Hall by SA National Parks as a precautionary measure while the fire passes through.

The 136 members of the Jonkersberg community evacuated on Sunday were expected to return to their homes on Monday.

Evacuation

Forty-two people from Goudveld were still being looked after at the Rheenendal community hall and 74 people from the Buffelsnek community had been moved to Wittedrift.

Cape Nature said that, while attending to fires in the Boosmansbos Wilderness Area, Garcia and Kruisriver, the decision was made to evacuate the Garcia community because of the fire threatening the Garcia Bosdorp community.

Sixty-five people were being housed in a hall at the Riversdale rugby stadium on Monday as a precaution until the fires passed or were contained.

Joint operations centres were also planning to replace some of the exhausted Incident Management Teams members with rested, fresh staff.

The cool rainy conditions would hopefully give some regional staff time to rest to be ready for predicted hotter weather this week.

So far no more injuries have been reported.

Garden Route District Municipality’s head of disaster management Gerard Otto said the fire had burnt a width of 35km and a length of 180km.

Knysna’s acting municipal manager, Johnny Douglas, expressed his extreme gratitude to everybody who had helped.

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