File picture: ANA
Port Elizabeth – The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality fire and emergency teams were still battling the devastating fires in the area on Sunday, while Eastern Cape police have confirmed two fatalities in the Thornhill area west of the city.

On Sunday morning, Eastern Cape police said the devastating fires continued in the Humansdorp area with two confirmed fatalities as a number of buildings and vegetation were destroyed over the weekend.

At about 5pm on Saturday, a 72-year-old woman died at her farm in the Thornhill area, Captain Gerda Swart said. Her 73-year-old husband was admitted to hospital in Port Elizabeth with burn wounds and died during the evening.

"An inquest docket was registered following the death of Myrna van der Riet, 72, and her husband Walter van der Riet, 73, as a result of a fire on their Langlaagte farm, Thornhill," she said.

Emergency services had been deployed in the area since the start of the fires.

Humansdorp policing cluster commander Brigadier John Lebok had expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the couple, Swart said.

Nelson Mandela Bay municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said on Sunday morning: "We can confirm that the areas that remain a challenge are Van Stadens Gorge (wind has subsided, inroads have been made at Woodridge College and the surroundings) and Rocklands (fire under control, wind subsided giving firefighters a good opportunity to make progress) areas.

"The fire and emergency teams worked throughout the night,"

Inspections were currently under way at Woodridge to ascertain the amount of damage. Electricity outages continued in some areas and electricity distribution in two of the city's water pump stations had been cut due to fire damage. Residents were requested to use water sparingly.

"The primary objective is to save lives and property; the municipality is encouraged that the objective has been achieved to a certain extent.

"Reports of two people that have lost their lives in the Thornhill area are devastating to our fire and emergency teams. The municipality sends deepest condolences to the families," Mniki said.

The fire and emergency teams continued to monitor the whole city for any fire that might flare up. The municipality also pleaded with the community not to start fires in open areas or throw burning cigarette butts away.

"[The] fire and emergency teams would like to thank the community of Nelson Mandela Bay for the amazing support during this difficult time," Mniki said.