SANDF to boost resources to fire-struck Knysna

08 June 2017 - 12:09 By Farren Collins And Kgaugelo Masweneng
#KnysnaFire continues to burn, fanned by strong winds from #CapeStorm.
#KnysnaFire continues to burn, fanned by strong winds from #CapeStorm.
Image: Koos Britz via VWS Wildfires‏ @vwsfires on Twitter

The South African National Defence Force is expected to deploy more resources to assist with evacuations‚ after raging wildfires spread throughout Knysna in the Western Cape on Wednesday night.

The SANDF‚ as part of the National Joint Operations Centre (NJOC)‚ had already placed an Oryx Helicopter and crew on emergency-standby to assist the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management agencies‚ after storms tore through the province on Wednesday.

“More resources will be added to help with the situation in Knysna‚” said SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini. “We are just waiting for information to determine what resources those will be.”

Humanitarian support was being coordinated for close to 10 000 residents who were evacuated from the greater area overnight‚ he said.

According to Western Cape government spokesperson James-Brent Styan‚ the Incident Command Centre was assessing damage to nearly 20 suburbs in the area.

“No further storm or fire-related human fatalities have been reported since the deaths of three people in Rheenendal yesterday‚” Styan said.

“The total number of storm and fire-related fatalities across the Western Cape remains eight.”

The Knysna Provincial Hospital evacuated 82 patients on Wednesday night as the blaze intensified.

According to Mark van der Heever‚ spokesperson for Western Cape Government Health‚ the evacuation was “smooth” as the staff worked tirelessly to calm the patients while swiftly moving them to safer venues.

The venues are Life Knysna Private Hospital‚ the Advanced Knysna Surgical Centre and a church hall.

Van der Heever said the hospital had dedicated a number where family members of patients could call to trace them.

“They may contact 060 202 3387 to find their family members who are in safe venues‚” he said.

The hospital structure sustained no damage from the fire.

“The building was not affected; we are hoping that the fire will subside soon.”

-TMG Digital/TimesLIVE