File picture/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Families were forced to evacuate their homes as the fire in the Overstrand flared up on Friday.

Residents were evacuated from Hermanus, Betty’s Bay and Franskraal in Gansbaai and farms in the region including the Hemel en Aarde Estate, Camp Hill and a wedding venue called Bona Dea.

Fierce winds also fanned the flames in Pringle Bay, and Kogel Bay.

Deputy mayor of the Overstrand region, Elnora Gillion, said the situation was a “disaster”.

“The fires are spreading rapidly with heavy smoke and gale-force winds fanning the flames, but heavy rain is helping in some areas.

"Residents were evacuated to different community halls, and other residents are assisting wherever they can,” she said.

Spokesperson for the minister of local government, James-Brent Styan, said firefighters had been trying their best to put out the blaze which came dangerously close to the houses.

Strong winds made it difficult for the helicopters to water-bomb the fire. “Conditions are risky at the moment.”

Styan pleaded for residents to work with the fire department. People need to use great caution in these conditions over the next few weeks.

“Work with us and do not make fires outdoors,” he said.

Meanwhile, disaster management said the situation in Wupperthal was under control.

The Cederberg town is still reeling from a fire which broke out on December 30.

The blaze left 53 families homeless and destroyed almost 60 homes.

Police are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Humanitarian efforts are under way to rebuild the lives and homes of about 200 people who were left destitute.

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, Caesar Sauls, said various government departments were working hand in hand in a co- ordinated attempt to provide relief to the affected people.

A marquee was erected this week and was being used as a storage space for some of the donations that have been streaming in from across the province.

Teams working on relief efforts in Wupperthal will meet again on Monday to assess the progress and needs.

“For now, we have met all our soft objectives. The longer-term objectives like rebuilding the school, boarding house and homes are being assessed and addressed by the various departments,” said Sauls.

The Moravian Church of Southern Africa has also been instrumental in relief efforts in Wupperthal.

A building has been made available by the church to establish a local disaster management centre to place Wupperthal in a state of preparedness to respond effectively to emergency situations.

Weekend Argus