Knysna fires remembered

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A Wall of Remembrance of last year’s Knysna fire disaster has been erected at the Garden Route town’s Timber Village. It was officially opened during the annual Timber Festival this weekend.

Timber Village – a manufacturer of indigenous wood furniture and products – was also razed to the ground during the fires, but has been rebuilt and is operating at full-steam once again.

The Wall of Remembrance is the brainchild of locals, Bruce Bartie and Doné Else, who started a Facebook page, “Knysna Fires 7th June”, to share information and facilitate donations and assistance after the devastating incident.

It contains sponsored bricks with the names of those who lost their lives and property, as well as those who assisted during the disaster.

“In September last year my wife and i were sitting around thinking what can we leave as a legacy. We weren’t going to do this forever. We mulled over a few ideas and came up with the idea of a wall of remembrance, came and spoke to timber village, they got on board to build the wall for us, got to selling the bricks and it’s just been an incredible journey from there,” said Bartie.

Knysna Deputy Mayor, Ricky van Aswegen, says it is a reminder of how the local community came together during a difficult time.

“The mere fact that people went out of their way to assist other people, putting their own lives in danger to help other people. The love for one another, for the people of knysna. Having this wall of remembrance to enhance that and to show us that love, that compassion, that giving, that for me is what it’s basically about.”

Co-owner of Timber Village, Danie Hennessy, says the funds from selling the bricks goes towards their Skills Development Programme.

“This platform basically enables us to get funding, to train people, to use their hands, work with timber and obviously the long-term goal is they’ll benefit from that and will get employment through the skills they’ve achieved.”