Fire hidden in woods is new Knysna threat

11 July 2017 - 07:00 By PETRU SAAL
Homes in Knysna destroyed by the fire.
Burnt Knysna homes Homes in Knysna destroyed by the fire.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

A concerned Noetzie conservancy resident has been working closely with Southern Cape Fire Protection Association, SANParks and community to attend to smouldering fires in the indigenous Noetzie forest.

Environmentalist Wendy Dewberry has not lost her mind - she is trying to prevent new fires from spreading along the Garden Route.

She explained that fires burning underground could see a flare-up in the region.

A huge blaze cut a swathe of destruction along the Garden Route last month. Seven people died and hundreds of homes were destroyed.

"Usually an indigenous forest doesn't burn but because of the extreme weather conditions we are experiencing - like the drought - we had some fire in the forest," said Dewberry.

She said she received a notice from SANParks that the authorities would not be water-bombing the area.

"Any active fires underground will be left to burn out and the only thing that will help at this stage is about 50mm of rain.

"You can't bomb it with helicopters because the wind created by the rotors will open up the fire and exacerbate it.

"So, there is pretty much nothing they can do," she said.

She said that SANParks, the municipality and some Pezula residents spent last week digging in the area to curb any fires that were still smouldering underground.

"I was also up there trying to dig roots up in areas where houses were under threat.

 "When I dug there, about a metre deep, the forest's floor was black, which just shows you how deep and how long the fires were burning."

“I have been picking up glass and rolling up all the barbed wire on all members’ property so that when the fynbos bounces back, the litter will be minimal and the area safe for animals to return.”

"We had between 6mm and 10mm of rain on Sunday, so that has cooled down the  active fires for now, but we need more rain to completely extinguish the remaining fires," said Dewberry.

Working on Fire spokesman Lauren Howard said teams were monitoring the active fire lines following flare-ups on Thursday.

- TimesLIVE