Canals on fire – update continuous
A Report as news filters in from the canals about the state of the fire… continuous tonight...
3.30 am an exhausted Marc May, one of the fire fighters, says: “The fire is being brought under control thanks to assistance from fire fighters from PE and Uitenhage – in addition to our own – who have battled for hours…”
2.30 am: The popular Big Time is miraculously still standing but all neighbouring houses are burning, smouldering or in ruins.
12: 20 am: Kouga Municipality has just announced (15 minutes ago) that about half of the fire that has been raging at the St Francis canals has been extinguished. No further immediate threat to houses. Around 100 houses have burnt down. Exact figure to be confirmed later today. Much thanks to the firefighters and volunteers who are still out there working hard to put out the blaze completely.
State of the fire – Photo taken from Santareme by Phillip Wolfsburg at midnight and sent to us:
12.09 am : Report from Peri: Big Time is unharmed from the devastation that has hit our beautiful canals and town. All homes surrounding us did not make it but our guardian angels kept us safe from harm.
11.31 pm: If there are any evacuated pets that need to be taken care of and need accommodation please contact Christelle from Happy @ Home Pet Sitting. 0835280886
11.29 pm: Report just come in says the fire is now in Shore Road on Ski Canal and burnt 3 houses there so far. Many firefighters now here …wind coul drop overnight
11.16 pm: Disaster management has requested that anyone with fire fighting experience please make their way to the old fire station and volunteer. Also if anyone has a water pump please take it to the fire station.
Everyone else just please stay home as it is not safe on the canals right now!!
11 pm : Just had a good report that The Big Time Taverna is still standing. Alison Jones spoke to Melina. It’s saving grace is that that restaurant does not have a thatched roof. It is understandable to think that it has gone however Peri, Debbie and Mark and other staff are still there dowsing the area with water. Everything else around it has gone apparently .
10: 21 pm: Update from Kouga Municpality: “Latest info puts the number of houses ablaze at about 100. Firefighters are tracking the fire and are keeping the roofs of adjacent houses as wet as possible to try and prevent the fire from spreading further.
“The big challenge is the strong wind. We also ask that people avoid the scene. There are large numbers of spectators, who are complicating efforts to fight the blaze. “
10 pm : A report has just come again to remind people that the St Francis Bay Golf Club has opened it s doors to anyone who needs a cup of tea and a safe place to stay. Also the St Francis lodge at the Links has offered free accommodation, plus Sandals has three beds.
9 pm Have been unable to get news on the ground other than houses are still burning and more houses are burning.
Those in authority are literally swamped! Every disaster management person , plus NSRI personnel are swamped with the tasks of dealing with these mammoth flames and so many houses all burning at once.
But a comment from a resident Tony Butler says: ‘More than 80 houses have burnt down. Fire out of control. Strong westerly blowing. “Looks like a war zone, A total disaster!!” he says. No word of lives lost yet, but there is no water pressure so it’s a losing battle”
No one in authority understandably, has time to provide an update or speak to the press.
There are reports of sporadic firework sounds on the canals as gas bottles explode. The sky above the canals is still crimson with flames.. The fire is jumping and flying over the canals in the strong wind and spreading to other homes.
We will provide an update as soon as possible.
In the interim the Kouga Municipality says: “Anybody who needs assistance or can offer assistance, be it accommodation or just blankets for those affected, can go to the local police station or call 042 200 1800.
“There are conflicting reports about the number of houses that are burning. No official confirmation as yet.
“No injuries have been reported but paramedics are on the scene. “
See the following photos uploaded before midnight by resident Richard Arderne: