SR2 airplanes are being used to spread fire foam over a factory in Richards Bay following a massive blaze at the weekend.
Taking to social media, area councillor Henning de Wet said SR2 planes are carrying around 1800 litres of fire foam from the Zululand Fire Protection Association while two helicopters are expected to fly in to assist.
The business is believed to be one of Richards Bay’s largest woodchip exporters.
Cllr de Wet said the winds exacerbated the spread of the fires.
He said that no homes were damaged despite the fires spreading quite close to bordering properties.
Speaking to eNCA, de Wet said the residential areas are safe.
He added that cleaning agencies have advised residents to keep their doors and windows closed.
According to City of uMhlathuze spokesperson, Bongani Gina, City of uMhlathuze Fire Services received an urgent call regarding a fire incident near the NCT Company, adjacent to FOSCOR, which handles wood-related materials.
He said when teams arrived at the scene, they found that the fire started at a conveyor belt used for the storage of wooden chips.
"However, a comprehensive investigation will be conducted to determine the precise cause of the fire. At the time of arrival, the fire had already engulfed the wooden chip stockpiles," he said.
Gina said the City of uMhlathuze Fire Services promptly engaged in firefighting operations and received invaluable assistance from various partners, including the Mondi Fire Services, Transnet Fire Services, South 32, RBM, and other private companies.
In a statement, Gina explained that that weather conditions posed significant challenges, with soaring temperatures and intensified wind speed that shifted to a northerly direction.
He said at one point, wooden chip sparks were carried over John Ross Highway, igniting the green belt opposite the highway and the neighbouring residential area of Arboretum, Via Cassandra
"The fire was brought under control later in the evening with no reported loss of property or lives. Our current focus remains on monitoring and addressing the ongoing fire at NCT, which is expected to require additional time, possibly even days, for complete containment. The collaborative response from concerned agencies and the community has been overwhelming, with water tankers also made available to provide much-needed assistance," he said.
Mayor Xolani Ngwezi has extended his thanks to the emergency teams and volunteers who assisted to put out the blaze.