Strong bergwind fanned lightning-induced Knysna fire – scientific report

Thousands of people have been affected and hundreds of homes have been destroyed as runaway fires swept through areas around Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in June 2017. Picture: David Ritchie

One of South Africa’s biggest disasters, the fire led to at least seven deaths and hundreds of homes destroyed. 

Dry and windy conditions resulted in the flare-up of the fire at Elandskraal, northwest of Knysna, in June last year leading to one of South Africa’s most devastating fires yet, a report released by the Council for Scientifid and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Thursday has found.

“Strong bergwind conditions coupled with very dry vegetation most probably resulted in the flare-up of a lightning-induced smouldering fire on the morning of 7 June 2017 in the Elandskraal region, northwest of Knysna, resulting in one of the worst fire disasters in South Africa’s history, ” the CSIR said in a statement.

The report, which followed the gathering of scientific data, highlights the cause of the fire which led to at least seven deaths and hundreds of homes being destroyed.

The CSIR said there was initially limited data to analyse the cause of the fire but it has lately acquired more information, including satellite imagery, drone video footage, and weather data.

“As more satellite and other data sets became available, a probable sequence of events emerged. The analyses provide valuable insight into the conditions that led to this disastrous fire and thus may assist in mitigating fire risks and inform responses in future,” the statement quoted Philip Frost, CSIR research group leader, as saying.

African News Agency (ANA)

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