Cape Town – The death count of the Knysna fires now stands at seven following the death of a woman who succumbed to burn wounds on Saturday night, James-Brent Styan confirmed to News24.
The woman, who is the mother of the three-year-old child who died on Wednesday, also suffered burns and was confirmed dead on Saturday evening at Tygerberg Hospital.
On Saturday, five fighters in George were reported to have sustained minor injuries. Styan – spokesperson for Western Cape local government MEC Anton Bredell – confirmed in a statement that the total number of fatalities in Eden came to seven on Sunday, including one firefighter.
With the help of 1106 firefighters in the area, all fires have been contained, said Styan. The Knysna municipality also confirmed on Sunday evening in a statement that Knysna remains open for business.
The fires that started five days ago ran rampant through the town of 77 000 people. The fire was propelled by strong winds from a storm that ravaged the Cape area last Wednesday.
The weather is expected to cool down, with reduced winds and 30% of rain expected over the next two days, according to a statement from the South African Weather Services (SAWS).
The cooler weather has allowed for aerial resources to be implemented easier, making it easier to water-bomb the affected areas.
On Sunday morning, aircraft were on scene, including from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and Working on Fire (WOF).
According to a statement from Styan, all fires have been contained on the north side of Knysna and north side of Sedgefield. Six more houses were burnt down in Knysna since Saturday.
Brenton-on-Sea was reported to be affected on Saturday, with more houses being gutted by fires fuelled by gale force winds.
There are reportedly no losses in Buffalo Bay, as the town was protected from runaway fires by way of deliberate back burn.
A back burn is a method used by firefighters to fight natural fires with man-made fire. A wide area in the path of the fire is scorched, and it acts as a divide between the oncoming fire, subsequently also reducing the amount of fuel available to the fire.
Meanwhile, in Bitou, about 50 structures were burnt down, but this is yet to be officially confirmed pending a formal assessment.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane tweeted earlier that he would be in Knysna on Monday, saying: “South Africans have lost houses, property, and so we must stand together as a people. Amandla!”
Nearly 10 000 residents were evacuated due to the fires which destroyed homes, structures, and power and communication lines.