The Mossel Bay Municipality in the Southern Cape says if it was not for the quick reaction of firefighting teams, damages at Hartenbos Heuwels would have been much worse.
Two houses were completely gutted on Monday in a veld fire fanned by strong winds and two firefighters sustained minor injuries.
Video footage of our AT 802 fixed wing air tractor bomber water bombing the Hartenbos Heuwels fire near the residential area.
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Pierre van Schalkwyk and his wife, Kleintjie, were in Potchefstroom dropping their son and daughter off at university, when they received calls that their house is burning.
In disbelief, they rushed back Monday afternoon and found their home in ruins.
Van Schalkwyk says they only have the clothes left that they packed for their trip to the North West. He says fortunately they have insurance, and also received a lot of offers of support from the local community.
“From 2 o’clock when we left Potch, my wife received one call after the other, probably until 11 at night. It sounds strange, but so many people offered us accommodation. I told my wife if we stay over every night with somebody else, we’d have a place to sleep for the next year.”
Mossel Bay Municipality Spokesperson, Colin Puren, says about 100 hectares of veld were destroyed. He says the damage could have been much worse.
“We were lucky to have assistance from George Municipality, Garden Route District Municipality, our own fire department; every single man was here in total about 50 people; firefighters on the ground. We had two vehicles, two helicopters and one fixed wing plane as well as our neighbourhood watch. We had private companies transporting water to the scene so the fire department could use it.”
Puren says the two injured firefighters refused to leave their stations.
“Two of our firefighters got injured. One was injured by coals going in behind his protective clothing, and the other had an ember of the fire going into his eye. I’m very proud to say Mossel Bay firemen, they’re so loyal; so devoted to their work; they refused to go to the hospital for treatment. They were treated on site and carried on with their duties. We’re lucky we only had those two injuries.”
The cause of the fire is not yet known.