10000 evacuated, 4 dead as fires engulf South African town

NATIONAL UPDATE: Three killed in Knysna fire – Pta family member speaks out

South African Department of Defense Spokesman Brigadier General Masi Mgobhozi said two army helicopters are on standby in Cape Town to help with evacuations from homes if needed.

Reuters reports that thousands of people in shanty towns, who endured the region's worst drought in a century, are hardest hit by the blaze, as floods and heavy rain washed away homes built of planks and zinc sheets.

Four people died in a fire caused by a lightning strike in the northern Cape Town suburb of Kraaifontein, while another was killed in the Lavender Hill area when a building collapsed, according to the provincial government.

The storm forced President Jacob Zuma, who was in Cape Town, to cancel a speech to an global media conference in Durban, a city on the Indian Ocean coastline, his office said.

The fire, fanned by high winds spread to nearby Plettenburg Bay and Knysna in the Western Cape Province killing several people, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of up to 10,000 people.

Also on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma extended his deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the storm that engulfed the Western Cape.


Zille has been suspended from her party - the main opposition Democratic Alliance - over tweets apparently endorsing colonialism, but remains head of the regional government.

"The fire in Knysna is the largest and most destructive fire in recent memory with thousands displaced", Mr Styan said.

"According to a reporter on the scene, it makes for a very eerie image as most of the houses that have burnt down are surrounded by properties that remained untouched by the flames", the Knysna-Plett Herald reported.

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