Knysna Fires Were Probably Started by ‘Human Activity’, Finds Report

The cause of the devastating Knysna fires that left seven people and many animals dead, in early June 2017, was highly likely to have been “human activity”, according to Knysna fire chief Clinton Manuel… although experts are unable to determine at this point if the fire was set deliberately.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday at the Knysna Council Chambers, Manuel pointed out that people start fires for many reasons.

The finding, he said, is based on the discovery of pine cones  – often used for kindling – and charred logs on private property on the slopes of the Elandskraal area, where the fire began. He said they were out of place – there weren’t any pine trees in the area, but there is a footpath and road access, and said “the probable cause comes down to that pine cone.”

His report will now be handed over to the police to investigate further and determine exactly why the fires were started. Apart from the tragic deaths, around 846 homes were also destroyed or damaged by three blazing fires which started on 7 June 2017.


The Report found that the fires were spread by other factors such as the weather patterns. (Strong winds, Berg winds, the drought and lack of rain.)

One of the “main culprits” adding to the fire hazard was “invasive plant material”; and the Knysna region has been left with bare slopes, exposed to erosion, said the Report. It outlined the constructive steps that are being taken to address these issues and prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Report on Knysna Fires released

The full Knysna Fire Report

Firemen’s Parade in Knysna just after the fires

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View the full report here.