Residents forced to evacuate near Garden Route Fire in South Africa

Fires in South Africa. Satellite image
Fires in South Africa. Satellite image from October 27, 2018. NASA.

Firefighters in South Africa have been busy for the last week battling large wildfires. A week ago a helicopter pilot was killed while working on one of the fires.

Below is an excerpt from an article in The South African, October 29, 2018.


A fierce Garden Route fire has engulfed part of the Outeniqua Mountain range near George, leading residents to evacuate homes and smallholdings.

The blaze, which began over the weekend, has been fanned by scorching temperatures and strong winds. George Municipality has initiated voluntary evacuation procedures for residents in the danger zone, which is currently regarded as the northern outskirts of the nearby town.

George fire causes panic as residents evacuate.

On Monday morning, George Municipality issued an evacuation warning for residents on the outskirts of town. Residents of Blanco Golden Valley and Stepaside were urged to vacate their homes as a precautionary measure.

The local traffic department and the South African Police Service (SAPS) are currently assisting residents in the area, ushering them to safety at the Town Hall. Residents of Heatherlands and Fernridge in George have also been urged to evacuate their properties and find shelter at the Blanco Community Hall.

Pilot killed while working on wildfire in South Africa

(This article first appeared on Fire Aviation)

Nico Heyns
Nico Heyns. Photo by Christopher Scott.

A helicopter pilot died in a crash October 23 while helping firefighters extinguish a wildfire in South Africa.

Nico Heyns, 65, was flying a Huey owned by Kishuga Aviation that was under contract to the firefighting agency Working On Fire.

The accident occurred the Vermaaklikheid area, about 40km from Riversdale, around 9:50 a.m.

Mr. Heyns was supposed to be off duty that day but interrupted his leave to help with the fire. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie said, “Police had to arrange for the speedy removal of the body to save it from the fire that was engulfing the area.”

Mr. Heyns, a veteran pilot with more than 20 years experience, formerly owned Heyns Helicopter Service and was well known in the aviation community.

Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends, and co-workers.

Firefighter in South Africa killed while battling wildfire

The firefighter was killed while working on a wildfire in the Simonsberg Mountain area

Makelepe Cedric Seokoma
Makelepe Cedric Seokoma

A firefighter in South Africa was killed  February 5 while working on a wildfire in South Africa. Makelepe Cedric Seokoma was a Base Manager for Working on Fire.

Mr. Seokoma passed away while working to contain a wildfire in the Simonsberg Mountain area near Klapmuts in the Western Cape.

Originally from the Limpopo Province, Mr. Seokoma leaves behind his wife and children. He started at Working on Fire in 2004 and moved up the ranks to the crew leader position, then Instructor. At the time of his untimely passing, he was the the Base Manager in the Western Cape.

The organization employs 5,000 young men and women trained as veld and wildland firefighters stationed in over 200 bases throughout South Africa.

On January 29 another firefighter in South Africa died while on duty. Candice (Ashley) Kruger was helping to suppress a wildfire on the lower slopes of Table Mountain when she collapsed and later passed away in a hospital. She was in her ninth year with the Fire and Rescue Service in Cape Town and was assigned to the Roeland Street Fire Station.

Firefighter in South Africa collapses on the fireline, dies later in hospital

Firefighter Candice (Ashley) Kruger was 33 years old

Candice Kruger
Candice Kruger

A firefighter in South Africa collapsed while working on a fire January 28 and later passed away in a hospital.

Candice (Ashley) Kruger was helping to suppress a wildfire on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. She was in her ninth year of working for the Fire and Rescue Service in Cape Town and was assigned to the Roeland Street Fire Station.

The City will assist the Kruger family with funeral arrangements and will also offer trauma counseling to her relatives and Platoon colleagues. The Fire and Rescue Service will also offer the family a full Brigade Funeral as Candice died while serving in the line of duty.

Our sincere condolences go out to her friends, family, and co-workers.

Seven people killed in South Africa wildfires

Above: A post-fire scene from Knysna, South Africa. Screen grab from the Times video below.

Wildfires in South Africa have killed five residents, at least one firefighter, and have forced thousands to evacuate.

One of the fires in the Van Stadens Gorge area in the Eastern Cape has reportedly reached some of the buildings at Woodridge College outside of Port Elizabeth, the school said in a Facebook post.

Nine dead in South Africa storm and wildfires

Above: The red dots indicate heat from wildfires in South Africa detected by a satellite on June 7, 2017 . Much of the smoke is obscured by clouds, but it can be seen further to the southeast when it emerges out of the cloud layer. NASA data.

Large wildfires and an associated storm in South Africa have killed at least nine people, according to Western Cape local government spokesman James Brent Styan. A storm system brought very strong winds to the area which resulted in flooding in Cape Town while lightning and winds further to the east have caused fires near Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

The Weather Channel reports that four of the deaths occurred in a fire caused by lightning, and one other person died when a home collapsed. Three others died in a separate fire. Approximately 10,000 residents have been evacuated.