Some evacuations in George as firefighters battle blaze, Outeniqua Pass closed

Working on Fire, the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre and two municipalities were battling another raging blaze in the province on Monday.

A joint statement from the George and Garden Route District municipalities stated that there were ongoing active fires in George in the Outeniqua Pass area. The pass was closed until further notice.

In two areas close to the pass, the traffic department and police were aiding a precautionary evacuation. “GO GEORGE” buses were expected to arrive to assist residents with transport to the town hall.

“George Municipality is, as a precaution, evacuating residents in Blanco Golden Valley and Step-Aside,” according to a municipal alert issued just after 12:00.

“We request people to move carefully and not to panic.”


Heavy smoke and ash

The Outeniqua fire remains active in Waboomskraal, on the slopes of the Outeniqua Mountain above Witfontein Plantation, as well as in Karatara.

However, it has been contained by South African National Parks.

Residents should expect heavy smoke and ash, a statement said. The fire line is behind Fernridge, moving into a nearby plantation. Ground crews were busy with containment.

“All other fire lines are safe and contained at present. [There is] smoke due to smouldering back burns from yesterday and wind direction, which has changed to push smoke over the CBD,” the joint statement read.

Aerial support in the form of two Huey helicopters and two fixed-wing bombers were also battling the blaze. A South African Defence Force Oryx helicopter was also deployed to George Airport. However, due to limited visibility, water bombing is a challenge.

Government-funded Working on Fire reported that at least 95 volunteers were battling the blaze and resources expected to exceed 300 people by the afternoon.

Residents have been urged to keep windows and doors closed until further notice to protect themselves against smoke and heat.

Pets should also be kept indoors where possible and garden furniture that is flammable should be moved under cover.

Authorities also advised the elderly and people who have health issues to “remove themselves” from the areas adjacent to slopes of the mountain.

Those who wish to donate toward firefighting efforts, can deliver goods to the George Fire Brigade at Mitchell Street.

Some of the required donations include smaller bottles of water (not 5l bottles) for the firefighters, juices, energy drinks, lip balm, wet wipes, Rehydrate and energy bars.

Over the last week, firefighters in the Western Cape have been battling blazes in Kosovo informal settlement, Khayelitsha, Overcome Heights in Vrygrond and along the Garden Route.

READ MORE: ‘It’ll happen again’ say Silver Town  fire victims

There have been daily fire warnings as parts of the province experienced a heatwave that lasted until Sunday.  — News 24

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