Garden Route District Fire Updates Tuesday 30th October

Fire Update 2018/10/30 @ 17:15

DE VLUGT (North of De Vlugt)
Evacuations at De Vlugt are coordinated on the ground by Mr Mark Bosch and Mr Deon Van Wyk. Cellular signals continue to be an issue, hampering feedback from ground teams. SANDF Oryx has been deployed to assist with battling the wildfire.

The fire passed the northern side of the community thanks to a change in wind direction – evacuations have been placed on hold. The fire passed the Bibbies Hoek area as well. The Kraaibosch area near Rheenendal is a cause for concern as the wildfire is approaching it. Power lines have made it difficult for aircraft to bomb the fire lines as bombers had to unload water at a higher than usual altitude.

Valley and mountainous areas created microclimate conditions, which have led to ever-changing wind-directions. This is hampering fire fighting activities. In addition, the Incident Management Team found that an indigenous forest in the area could not fully block the fire as expected.

If wind direction stays as is, the area could be less of a concern. Black wattle and other invasive alien plants pose a major threat due to it burning at an extremely high intensity. Infrastructure in this area could be at risk if the wind direction should change.

KEERHOEK (on edge of Rheenendal, informal settlement)
People have been evacuated. Adequate resources are on the scene is to protect people and infrastructure.

Luvain- Fire contained, resources monitoring for flare-ups GRDM Crews
Waboomskraal Lodge – Fire is contained, resources monitoring for flare-ups
Glenbarrie – Fire is contained, resources monitoring for flare-ups
Denneoord – Fire is contained, resources monitoring for flare-ups
Saasveld – Fire is contained, resources monitoring for flare-ups
Seven Passes – Fire is contained, resources monitoring for flare-ups
Uniondale – Fire is contained, resources monitoring for flare-ups
Jonkersberg Fire – This fire is inaccessible and will continue burning up the mountain. This fire entered the Jonkersberg area after a wildfire spread via the west side of the Outeniqua Pass. The area is inaccessible, therefore active firefighting in this area will only commence once the wildfire reaches an area accessible to ground teams.
SAPS have to be complimented – they confirmed a lot of information and have been a valuable component to accurate synopsis of the situation in especially the Rheenendal and Karatara areas.

Issued by the Garden Route DM JOC

Garden Route District Fire Update 2018/10/30 @ 16:15

De Vlugt Fire – Fire spreading north-west and south-east. Up the mountain towards a sawmill and towards a south-eastern sawmill. There is a Fire Management Unit to the north of the fire. All the farmers have been informed to prepare for evacuations. We do not have control of the fire, it is going down the valley. Aerial resources have been deployed to knock out fires at infrastructure. Ground teams will also be deployed. MTO has people on the ground. GRDM firefighters are on their way to the scene too.

Details of other fires will be released soon. Unfortunately, due to signal issues, the JOC is struggling to retrieve information from Fire Management Units and other role players.

Issued by the Garden Route DM JOC

Garden Route District Fire Update 2018/10/30 @ 10:00

Garden Route District except the George Municipal area

Multiple Locations, including Karatara, Rheenendal etc.

MEC Mbombo (Minister of Health), MEC Fritz (Minister of Social Development) as well as MEC Bredell (Minister Local Government and Environmental Affairs) will be visiting the affected areas of the Garden Route. The Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, might visit the Garden Route District tomorrow.

The safety of public, emergency services personnel working on this fire and protection of infrastructure remains a priority for the Incident Management team and all firefighters. The primary objective of teams is to prevent the spread of wildfire beyond existing fire lines. 
The focus areas today will include: Northern areas currently affected due to the south-westerly winds. These include Eseljacht, Ganzekraal and Louvain. In addition, the eastern border of the fire (Knysna municipal area) is being driven by gale-force westerly winds. This remains a concern for the current operational period. 
Aerial resources will be moved to priority areas as decided by the Incident Management Team. It proved to be difficult to get aerial resources airborne yesterday due to the thick layer of smoke and morning fog in George area.

· Nearly 1000 people from the Karatara area have been evacuated as at 09:00 
· Nearly 200 people from the Western side of Rheenendal have been evacuated and more are being evacuated.

1. KARATARA: Fire not contained, majority of resources deployed to this area. 
2. BERGPLAAS: To be mopped up, monitoring of area taking pace. 
3. DENNEOORD: Flare-up at this area and it is being attended to. 
4. GARCIA PASS: Fire contained, mopping-up taking place. 
5. GANZEKRAAL: Farm burnt down last night – a three (3) km fire line is still active and firefighters have been deployed to the area. 
6. WABOOMSKRAAL: Fire contained, mopping-up taking place. 
7. HEROLD: Fire contained, mopping-up taking place. 
8. OPSOEK FIRE (Zoar): Assessment still in progress.
9. JONKERSBERG FIRE: Fire contained, mopping-up taking place. 
10. GROOTVADERSBOS: Assessment still in progress.
11. SAASVELD/BERGPLAAS: Fire contained, mopping-up taking place. 
12. DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE: Assessment still in progress.
13. TOORWATER: Fire contained, mopping-up taking place. 
14. HARTEBEES AREA: Firefighters attending to this fire

A total of eight fatalities have been confirmed. Two (2) adults and six (6) children under the age of 12 years.

Structures lost thus far:
· Ou tolhuis;
· Beervlei: 3 x structures;
· Garden Route Horse Trails: 4 x structures;
· Farleigh bosdorp :12 houses;
· Geelhoutvlei Timbers Sawmill;
· Various plantations;

Predominantly westerly wind today – strong on the northern side, which is expected to continue throughout today and tomorrow (31 October 2018). Prediction for today and tomorrow is 6 ml rain. The rain has not had a major impact on the wildfires. Winds are not in favour of making back burns due to its unpredictability and the risk of spotting – the wind has however moved smoke away from George.

Some of the resources deployed to the Garden Route, especially the George and Knysna Municipal areas, have also been deployed to Swellendam, Heidelberg, Swartberg, Ladismith/Calitzdorp areas.
Nearly 600 resources deployed across the Garden Route District.

• Garden Route District Municipality Fire Services: 20
• WoF: More than 280 people (the Free State and the entire Western Cape)
• Cape Nature: 60
• Mossel Bay LM: 6
• Bitou LM: 2
• NCC: 36
• Oudtshoorn LM: 2
• George Fire Department: 15
• PDMC: 1
• Knysna LM: 5
• SanParks: 25
• SCFPA: 4
• MTO: 80
• ACSA : Tankers from PE as well as Cape Town
• Overberg DM: 5
• West Coast DM: 13
• Go George: 10
• EMS: Incident command bus and 5 staff;
• ER 24
• 1 SANDF Oryx Helicopter
• Two Aerial Tractors (Fixed wing aircraft)
• Two Huey Helicopters from WoF
• 1 Private Helicopter

The Department of Social Services has been rendering trauma counselling to the bereaved as well as those traumatised by the fires. Die Department of Education arranged for school children to stay on safe school grounds until conditions at home improved.

Please contact the George Fire Department for more information.

Editor’s Note:
• 900 – 1000 litres of water carried by each WoF Chopper and private choppers
• Aerial Tractor Bombers carry around 3000 litres of water
• SANDF Oryx carries around 3500 litres of water

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