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Last modified: 19 Jun 2017
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Fire prompts second disaster declaration

12 June 2017

 The Kouga Council has declared a second “local state of disaster” in as many weeks.

Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said the widespread destruction caused by the recent fires had prompted the Council to declare a local state of disaster at a special meeting on Monday, 12 June.

The declaration followed less than two weeks after the Council also declared a local state of disaster on 31 May 2017 due to the prolonged drought and looming water shortage to the area.

She said the declarations were necessary for the municipality to apply for funding from provincial and national government to address the impact of the disasters on Kouga’s infrastructure and communities.

The declarations will now be promulgated in the provincial gazette.

“Just as we stood together in the heat of the fire, we now have to stand together in rebuilding - in the same spirit - our families, our infrastructure and our Kouga,” she said.

She said the Council wished to express its sincere condolences to the Van der Riet family on the passing of Myrna and Walter Van der Riet during the fires.

“It has been one of the great tragedies of this disaster,” she said.

“We are also sad to have heard about farm houses that were partly damaged or burnt down, the loss of staff houses, livestock, implements and outbuildings.”

She said the Department of Social Development was busy assessing how many people had lost everything in the fire and what their needs were.

“We would like to thank everyone who made donations or dedicated time and effort for the people of Kouga. The support has simply been incredible.”

Veld and bush fires, driven by strong winds, have been raging in the Kouga region since Wednesday, 7 June, threatening farm areas in particular. While fire-fighters were able to extinguish and bring most of the fires under control by Thursday, hundreds of fire-fighters from across the country have been battling to bring a runaway fire in the Longmore region under control.