VIDEO: Residents evacuated after massive St Francis Bay blaze

JANUARY 25, 2016

Update: The fire is now limited to small areas and is undercontrol, according to the NSRI. Still, there were concerns that a change in wind direction, which was forecast for later on Monday morning, could fan the flames in another direction. No injuries or fatalities had been reported.

A massive bush fire that has been raging in the Cape St Francis area since Saturday was on Monday morning still threatening homes as it was reportedly still raging at around 50 to 60-metres high.

While local fire-fighters spent Sunday night battling the blaze, local emergency and disaster management teams helped evacuate residents from their homes. A helicopter was also dispatched to try and extinguish the fire from the air.

Some of the evacuated reportedly tried to get back to their homes when the wind direction changed but heavy smoke made that impossible.

On Sunday, the fire crossed the R330 on the Cape St Francis side, and the road was closed a few times.

As a precaution, the local fire department asked residents with thatched roof houses on the edge of the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve to start wetting their roofs and to clear bushy areas around their homes.

Meanwhile, the Kouga Local Municipality has reportedly opened a case of arson as the fire is alleged to have been started by a flare and was then fanned on by strong winds experienced in the area over the past weekend.

It appeared that the flare landed in a patch of bush near Sea Vista on Saturday, National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Paul Hurley said.

The NSRI was helping with the firefighting effort.

The fire began at the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve, which is adjacent to the Thyspunt area - one of the proposed sites for Eskom's new nuclear power station. 

A similar fire destroyed or damaged 76 houses (at a cost that was estimated to be in the millions) in St Francis Bay in November 2012. The fire started at the Royal Wharf developments and was also fanned by a strong westerly wind.

Main image: Smoke blows over Santareme  from the directionof the R330. Image: Murike de Groot.

Video: Courtesy of the Democratic Alliance (Kouga). 

Video: St Francis Bay Fire, 11 November 2012, courtesy of Linda Collison via YouTube.