Article By Bev Mortimer
In a fire that suddenly spun out of control about a dozen thatched houses in Lyme Road North and Peter Crescent in St Francis Bay it is estimated that 11 houses or more were burnt this afternoon, sporadically one after the other, after strong winds fanned a bush fire, which travelled swiftly in a south-easterly direction.
Most of the houses burnt down in spite of strong efforts to douse the flames. Currently the fires are still not totally under control.
Two helicopters were still flying around in the air a half hour ago and 85 fire fighters were on the ground to help fight the fires in the two roads, plus many volunteers assisted. Pilot Barry Culligan and Vincent Lyons from Lyons Construction also flew a helicopter around to assist as part of the co-ordinated fire-fighting efforts from the air.
In true community spirit, residents and members of organisations, such as the NSRI in St Francis Bay, who acted as volunteers for the St Francis Disaster Volunteer Group (DVG), have been dousing thatched roofs all afternoon in the vicinity of burning ones and Super Spar St Francis Bay has been donating water and supplies to the fire fighters. The DVG assists in disaster situations in St Francis and played a big role in this fire today.
One resident , Tania Jordaan, whose house was saved this afternoon owing to efforts by the volunteer firefighters and roof wetters, expressed her gratitude; “We are so grateful for everyone who helped saved our house today.
“I am so humbled. What a great community. Words are not enough. Very sad about the losses. Praying for all involved.”
The four-way stop at the corner of Lyme Road North and St Francis Drive was packed with onlookers and many cars lined the road and people were watching the helicopters flying to the golf course dam and then flying to burning houses in the two roads and dousing the flames.
The fire started in the bushes north of Lyme Road North soon after 2 pm, and the local Kouga fire station’s firemen responded, plus emergency vehicles arrived on the scene. More fire fighters arrived from Humansdorp as well as from St Francis Links.
Assistance was also requested from Sarah Baartman District Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
A call went for out all able bodied volunteers to assist in the fire-fighting operations and to wet roofs with hosepipes. A temporary communications H/O was set up at the four-way stop where volunteers were on hand handing out gas mask and bottles of water to volunteers.
The fire has been contained but there are still flash spots and fire fighters are still in present on the scene. Further updates will be posted as they come in.
Photos on the ground by Bev Mortimer. Aerial photos by pilot, Vincent Lyons and Barry Culligan, who co-ordinated fire fighting operations from the air.
Video: Richard Arderne of Pam Golding Properties : https://www.facebook.com/richardarderne.bay/videos/2025064954262028/?t=0