Gratitude Pours In as Rain Dampens Western Cape Inferno, After Day from Hell

For many residents in Franskraal and Hermanus, in the Western Cape, today was a day from hell… as three fires burned out of control in the Overstrand, and strong winds of 60 to 80 km/h forced aerial support to be grounded and and fuelled the inferno. Residents were evacuated. Buildings, including houses, were destroyed. And at least one person, from Betty’s Bay, was hospitalised. But tonight things are looking better…

The runaway fires were in Betty’s Bay, Gansbaai-Franskraal and Karwyderskraal.

Fortunately late this afternoon prayers and wishes have been answered… as the heavens have opened and the wind – which had reached 94km/h gusts – has died down.

Late tonight the Overstrand Municipality and Hermanus CPF reported: “We are grateful for the welcome rain and that the wind has substantially subsided in the Overstrand region.”

In a joint statement this evening, they said officials are busy with an assessment of the structural damages in Betty’s Bay and Franskraal where multiple buildings were destroyed.

They said a preliminary assessment of Hermanus Heights and Northcliff show little or no damage to structures.

The assessment of Karwyderskraal / Hemel-en-Aarde is still outstanding.

All roads are now open, and the Eskom power outages in the Overstrand are being attended to.

“Several structures have been damaged, feedback will be given on this next week,” said Overstrand Municipality.

Betty’s Bay and Franskraal residents had been given a mandatory evacuation order at around 15h40 on Friday… receiving the words they’d been dreading: “For your safety you are to immediately evacuate your home.”

The following halls will remain open throughout the night: Hermanus – Sandbaai Hall, Gansbaai Tourism Hall, Betty’s Bay – Crassula Hall and Kleinmond Town Hall.

Tonight the OSM JOC said: “We thank everyone that donated food, refreshments and medical supplies. We have enough food for the night… however Kleinmond and Betty’s Bay require more blankets if anyone can help. We will appeal for assistance tomorrow again if necessary.

“Thank you to all role-players for their commitment and support. Law Enforcement will continue monitoring the situation throughout the night.”Please follow direction from officials.

One resident said: “Dit was ‘n dag van hel! (It was a day from hell!) Franskraal, Betties Bay, and parts of Hermanus all evacuated. Even parts of Gansbaai late afternoon before some rain started falling. Quite a few houses lost over this vast area…”

The original Betty’s Bay fire is believed to have begun on New Year’s Eve when a reveller let off a flare from Betty’s Bay which set fire to the mountains. A 34-year old man has been arrested.

Posted by Georg Knoke on Friday, January 11, 2019