Ricochet News

‘Looks like Armageddon’: Massive veld fire leaves bush and home destroyed in Theesecombe/Kamma Heights

By Jesica Slabbert - Dec 7, 2016
‘Looks like Armageddon’: Massive veld fire leaves bush and home destroyed in Theesecombe/Kamma Heights

“It looks like Armageddon” is how one resident described a huge fire that broke out in the Theescombe area of Port Elizabeth on Tuesday and destroyed a large swath of the veld as well as a home. Several homes close to the veld fire were also evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s firefighters and local volunteers fought hard to extinguish the fire well into the night, but gale force winds did not help the situation as the fire continued to spread further into the Kamma Heights area.

The current water situation in the Bay did not help either and the firefighters and volunteers had to empty swimming pools with buckets to save homes while Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, took to Twitter to appeal to residents for water donations.

It has not yet been established how the fire started at around 3pm near the Chelsea area before blazing through to Kamma Heights and Lorraine.

A huge cloud of smoke could be seen from any direction of the Nelson Mandela Bay as it was carried on by strong evening winds.

Residents of Kamma Heights were told to evacuate their homes around 7:30pm, while residents in the Theesecombe area were told to evacuate around 10:30pm when the fire, which was thought to be under control at the time, flared up again as the winds, which had died down, picked up again.

Among those evacuated were residents of an old-age home and horses from the area were provided shelter by the Port Elizabeth Riding Club.

No serious injuries have been reported, however a single thatched-roof home was burnt to the ground in Chelsea Avenue. The total extent of the damage is yet to be determined.

Due to the fact that the gale-force wind was spreading the fire at an alarming rate, firefighters could only manage to attempt to divert the flames away from the houses and into a remote part of the bush.

“24 firefighters and six fire engines were sent to fight the blaze, while volunteers from Working on Fire, Kragga Kamma Game Park and Lorraine Neighbourhood Watch were assisting,” said John Best, Mayoral Committee Member of Safety and Security, who also visited the affected areas.

Best stated that many of their emergency vehicles had a difficult time reaching certain areas due to on-lookers and backed up traffic.

Local firefighters and volunteers continued to battle the fire into the early hours of Wednesday morning. It is now under control.

For the next few days, residents and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will start the cost evaluation process.

On Tuesday, runaway fires were also reported in the Garden Route and in Kirkwood.

Power outage in Theescombe area

Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Metro on Wednesday morning advised residents of an electricity outage in Theescombe.

"Theescombe/ Chelsea overhead off due to fire damage occurred yesterday. Our staff is attending to the restoration of electricity supply and no time frame available," the Municipality said.

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