The victims of the fires in the Overstrand region of the Western Cape are counting their losses and attempting to move on with their lives.
Onlookers watch as a firefighter extinguishes a home that caught alight during a wildfire in the Overstrand region in the Western Cape on 11 January 2019. Picture: EWN
CAPE TOWN – With only the clothes on her back, an emotional Franskraal woman picks up the pieces after a fire took her home at the caravan park.
Annette Stark-Steenkamp’s home was one of five that were destroyed in the fire at the caravan park over the weekend. Steenkamp said that she has lost everything in the fire, including her belongings and four cats.
“Everything that I had, that’s destroyed. I had a lovely blackwood chest-of-drawers belonging to my mother and that’s gone. But I don’t want to be angry. It can happen to anyone. I have made peace with my loss and want to focus on the positive,” she said.
Over the weekend and earlier this week, fire crews worked around the clock battling two other fires in the Overstrand area, in Betty’s Bay and Hermanus. Firefighters eventually managed to contain the fires on Tuesday.
In Betty’s Bay, about 12,000 hectares of vegetation were destroyed, 41 houses were destroyed and 28 partially damaged. A Pringle Bay woman died from smoke inhalation.
This fire started three weeks ago.
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Standing in front of his Betty’s Bay family house, George Petousis says that he lost everything in the fire. He said the house had many memories and special family items.
Petousis added that it has been a family home for more than 100 years.
“We are all very sad because we love this place, and now it’s gone. All I have is a little shoebox of a few things that are completely burned,” he said.
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In Hermanus, two houses and one shed burned down.
Following the fire, a R25,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those involved in starting the fire in Masakhane in the Overstrand area.
The Overstrand Municipality has offered a reward of R5,000 and members of the public have pledged a further R20,000.
The municipality added that according to Eskom, households in Sunnyseas and Betty’s Bay are still without power but they are expected to be back on the grid as soon as possible.
Municipal manager Coenie Groenewald said that Eskom assured them that there is enough manpower to continue with the work.
“All necessary material to restore power has been delivered to Kleinmond – with the exception of the kiosks as they do not have stock. Eskom confirmed that they will try their utmost best to obtain these outstanding stock and to restore electricity to all affected users.”
Groenewald said that those in the Betty’s Bay area that are affected by the low reservoir levels in Sunny Seas can collect 5l bottles of drinking water from Crassula Hall.
Authorities say that firefighters are monitoring and patrolling the affected areas, and mop-up operations are underway.