Press release from the Eden District:
The Knysna Joint Operational Centre has lost all data and telephone communication capability.
All the fire lines in Knysna has flared up again and at this point in time they are all burning out of control.
Currently the following areas are being evacuated: Ruigtevlei; Concordia; Rheenendal; Wit lokasie.
All aerial resources has been grounded, the wind is too strong to safely use them.
The SAPS 1011 control room has been damaged by a fallen tree, alternative numbers to use are 044 803-4732/44/49.
In George a fire is raging out of control spreading towards the George Airport, and Maalgate. People in these areas are being evacuated.
Currently the wind is gusting at 97 km/h.
Press release from the Western Cape Government at 12:30:
BREAKING: Aerial Resources grounded due to gale force wind. Situation serious.
Further Evacuations in some areas.
Conditions in the Eden district are very difficult at present with gale force winds having picked up in the past hour from 11:00.
Eleven aircraft have been working in the region including three SANDF Oryx helicopters with a fourth inbound. These assets have been working tirelessly during the morning but have now all been grounded till further notice due to the bad weather conditions making flying unsafe. This will make the situation this afternoon very difficult.
Between 500 and 800 firefighters remain on duty in the region working in shifts.
Residents near Buffels Bay Nature Reserve have been evacuated out of their houses onto the adjacent beach as a precautionary measure to allow fire-fighters to extinguish the fire in the area.
In addition around 150 residents of Fairview and Gansvlei communities were evacuated during the night and early hours of the morning.
In total, to date, there are 408 formal and 200 informal structures that have been completely destroyed in Knysna, with 20 private homes destroyed in Plettenberg Bay.
Electricity and water supply remains a cause for concern in the Knysna area with the dam level at 31%.
Humanitarian support coordinated by Department of Social Development. It has been encouraged that cash donations are given.
Fatalities and injuries:
Knysna hospital was damaged and is still closed. A technical team is trying to get into the hospital as soon as possible. The SANDF have set up a mobile unit to assist with medical support. There have been increased cases of people who have been affected by smoke inhalation. All maternity cases are going to Knysna Life Hospital.
By 12:30 today, the confirmed number of fatalities in Eden district remains five. The injured firefighter from yesterday remains in hospital in Plettenberg Bay in a serious condition.
Conditions may improve from late afternoon and some light rain is forecast for tomorrow in the region. The challenge remains the remainder of the day and all efforts will be undertaken to contain the fire line as far as possible.