Ricochet News

Runaway fires bring Nelson Mandela Bay residents together

JUNE 12, 2017
Runaway fires bring Nelson Mandela Bay residents together

Even Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, was taken by surprise by the huge response from Nelson Mandela Bay residents,companies, NGOs and farmers, who responded en masse to his urgent appeal, via social media, for mobile water trucks.

This was after fire engines ran out of water while putting out a blaze at Woodridge School, which was fanned on by a gale force wind. The fire engines could not refill from the hydrants due to a precautionary electricity outage in the area.

"It's hard to imagine that something as horrifying as fire could create the space for us to give meaning to uBuntu, in exactly the way Madiba and Helen Suzman would have wanted," Trollip said.

"Amongst the destruction, trauma and heartbreak lies a special gift - seeing South Africans unite, shoulder to shoulder.

"When fire engines started running out of water and fire hydrants stopped working yesterday evening, I made a public appeal for mobile water tankers to be brought to the entrance of Woodridge College on the outskirts of the Municipality."

The Mayor said that within 10 minutes, the first truck had arrived and by 2 hours later, over 100 trucks and bakkies had brought tens of thousands of litres of water for use by the fire engines.

"Black, Indian, coloured, white, young, old, male, female. I saw South Africans at our very best, as one," the Mayor said.

"To everyone else who helped in any way, and to our hero firefighters - I am so grateful. We are better together. I believe in South Africa."

Several campaigns have also started for the collection of donations/supplies for Woodridge School and affected residents.

DA thanks firefighting heroes

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape extended tremendous gratitude to the firefighters, who worked for hours on end over the past hours, tackling monstrous flames that spread throughout the areas of Van Stadens, Greenbushes, Schoenmakerskop, Thornhill and many other areas, due to strong gale force winds.

"Sadly, in Nelson Mandela Bay part of Woodridge College was consumed by the fire late on Saturday and one house in Van Stadens was lost. Thankfully, there were no injuries or fatalities, but we extend our deepest sympathies to the Woodridge College family and the those in Van Stadens who lost their home," the party said.

"Very sadly in Kouga, there was one fatality with firefighters doing the best they could under trying circumstances. The DA extends its heartfelt condolences on the death in Kouga."

The party said that the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro firefighting teams have worked exceptionally hard and long hours, and continue to do so.

"The DA acknowledges and praises the work of the NMB fire teams, often extending beyond the borders of the Metro for the greater good of the region, as best as they could.

"The DA stands in solidarity with the communities affected and displaced by this fire. We salute the selfless people of the Eastern Cape who have come together to collect food, blankets, clothes, supplies and materials to alleviate the fire damage impact. Their efforts show how in spite of tragedy, we are better together," it said.

"To the firefighters we say: You are true heroes to us all, and we thank you for your hard work."