Residents of Knysna were urged to evacuate their homes yesterday evening as a fire continued to ravage the area.

The fires started on Tuesday and according to the Knysna municipality, despite two days of fighting, the fires are not yet under control.

“Sadly the fires in and around Knysna are still not under control. Fortunately the wind has died down quite a bit,” the municipality¬†tweeted early this morning.

The fire has claimed several cellphone towers according to ENCA which is making it hard for firefighters to communicate and especially hard for folks to get in touch with their families to let them know they are safe.

Defence force troops dispatched

The South African National Defence Force has dispatched troops to the area to assist fire fighters in trying to stop the inferno and looking at Working on Fire’s Twitter feed it appears as if the teams are winning.

So far 17 suburbs have been evacuated.

Can I help? How do I know if my family is safe?

Given that cell towers are down getting in touch with loved ones might be tricky. While the Knysna Municipality does have an emergency contact number it has urged folks to keep that line clear.

As such we need to explore other avenues and we have to give a thumbs up to Facebook here.

If you search “Knysna” in Facebook the first result is a Safety Check where you can find all of your friends and family who live in that have marked themselves as safe. If they haven’t marked themselves as safe keep in mind that cell signal is bad and it might be delayed.

The Knysna Municipality has also asked residents to post “I am safe” on their profiles as soon as they can.

If you are not in Knysna but want to help several organisations have put out calls for donations including Enviro Wildfire Services.

Eden Disaster Centre has also set up a hotline where people can offer up accommodation for the evacuees, food and help

If you know of other ways that folks can help please get in touch so that we can include them in this story and spread it to more folks.

[Image – CC BY SA 2.0 Robyn Jay]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.