STATEMENT - WCDMC- KNYSNA UPDATE - 10h20 | Western Cape Government




9 June 2017




09 JUNE 2017


Knysna Fire Update


  • Firefighter Bradley Richards passed away
  • Urgent steps underway to restore essential services


The death of a firefighter has been confirmed.

Bradley Richards served as a volunteer firefighter for the local Fire Protection Association and Bitou Fire department and sustained injuries to 70% of his body in the line of duty yesterday.

Another firefighter has been hospitalised with 50% burns as a vast network of emergency response teams continued to tackle the fires in the Eden district around Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

Anton Bredell, MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning expressed condolences on behalf of the Western Cape Government including the WCDMC to the family and the colleagues and friends of Richards.

“Each fatality is a new tragedy. We do what we can to prevent tragedies like this but the nature of these incidents are serious and often life-threatening. We are thinking of the emergency services personnel still in action, especially following the latest tragedy.”

Urgent steps are being taken to restore essential services to the areas affected by this week’s storm and devastating fire in the Eden District.

Knysna was already one of the Western Cape towns most impacted by the current province-wide water shortages – and supply has now been severely impacted by fire damage, and related power failures.

Engineering teams will be attempting to power the water network with generators – including waste-water systems, to reduce the possibility of pollution.

People are requested to use water carefully and sparingly, to prolong the availability of water in the town.

About 3000-4000 people remain displaced in the Eden district. Some areas that were evacuated have been declared safe and people from those areas have been allowed to return home.

In areas that have NOT been declared safe, people will not be allowed to return till the situation is safe.

Water bombing that commenced late yesterday given improved weather conditions, continued in the area this morning.

The area is on high alert for possible flare-ups of the fire, with Saturday’s weather indicating a high Fire Risk Danger Index.

The public is urged to take great care of potential fire flare-ups – and use great vigilance if entering burnt areas, under the impression that the fires are fully extinguished, which may not be the case.

Teams from Eskom and various agencies will be guided by the combined Incident Command Centre, to ensure engineering teams’ safety in the field.

Eskom hopes to restore electricity to the local grid, but the municipal supply network has been severely damaged. Urgent steps are being taken to identify fallen powerlines or other threats, before the electricity supply can be fully restored.

The public are cautioned to take extreme care in the vicinity of exposed electricity cables or infrastructure – especially in water-logged areas.

Telkom partner OpenServe reported that the telephone exchange serving the Knysna area was up-and-running, but the Telkom network was still being hampered by power failures and damaged infrastructure.

Around 300 telephone poles had been burned, and replacements were being sent in from other parts of the country. Approximately 15km of fibre optic cables were also damaged, as well as copper cabling in the area.

While communications networks are restored, CapeNature has partnered with emergency services to establish full radio communications between teams on the ground – between both the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay areas.

The vast emergency response has been co-ordinated at the Western Cape Disaster Management’s Joint Operations Centre (JOC), at the Tygerberg hospital. The JOC included representatives from more than two-dozen agencies, which were united into a multi-agency team.

“The effort was massive,” said WCDM chief Colin Deiner. “But it’s not over yet. We urge people to be extremely cautious in the damaged areas, and be aware that the fire could flare up again.”



 The campaign to collect donated goods is being managed by Community Development Directorate: Social Relief, in the Western Cape Department of Social Development.

All queries about donations should be directed to the Western Cape Disaster Management’s Relief Response Desk - 021 937 6391

Further updates in this regard will be released later today.



Media Enquiries: 


James-Brent Styan - 084 583 1670, Spokesman for Western Cape Local Government MEC Anton Bredell