Pierre Kruger – Volunteer fire fighter
On Sunday morning, 19 March 2017, a fire broke out next to the R44 between Rooiels and Pringle Bay. The first firefighters were on the scene just after 10:15 and the R44 was closed soon after. Joint Operations Command was set up at the Community Fire Station in Pringle Bay, from where around 150 firefighters were deployed by Overstrand Emergency Services. A helicopter, fixed-wing bomber and a spotter plane were deployed but wind turbulence caused them to withdraw after a short period. Rooiels was ordered to evacuate. Two houses were completely destroyed, and several others damaged. Some firefighting equipment were destroyed due to the intensity of the heat and the speed of the fire. On Monday morning air support resumed and the active firelines were contained on all fronts. Mop-up operations continued until the last patrol was carried out late Wednesday night when glowing embers were reported in the gully east of Rooiels.
Community members from as far as Gansbaai donated food and drinks and volunteered their help at the fire station where firefighters, law enforcement and ambulance personnel were fed around the clock until the last firefighting team signed off late Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters were constantly replenished with cold water and drinks on the firelines. Firefighter accommodation was provided at the fire station and at Crassula Hall in Betty's Bay. Mattresses were provided by local community members. A first aid station was set up in the fire station, where a Rooiels evacuee and a volunteer firefighter were given oxygen after smoke inhalation, and firefighters' eyes were treated. One firefighter was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.
Great thanks to the following firefighting teams: Greater Overberg FPA, NCC HotShot Crews, Overstrand Municipality Fire & Rescue, City of Cape Town Fire & Rescue, Overberg District Municipality, several Working on Fire teams, CapeNature and the Pringle Bay and Betty's Bay Volunteer Community Firefighters. Thanks also to all Overstrand community members and the general public who donated food, drinks, money, mattresses and pillows, and their time.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
* Inform Emergency Services - 0283122400
* Alert your neighbours, especially vulnerable people
* Once emergency personnel are on the scene, follow their instructions
Photos taken by Mike Leresche
Bolts of fire would suddenly shoot up and land some 100 metres away. The fire fighters would extinguish in one place - rush off to the next, only to find it flared up again. How they saved all these houses is a miracle and a testament to their determination, training and selfless dedication.
Thank You to all the Fire Fighters and those who assisted them
Justin Sullivan is a professional photographer and former fire fighter. Click the link to see his excellent photos and report on the Rooiels fire. There was also much buzz on Facebook and some excellent photos there.
Photos and anecdotes from Rooielsers
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