Martin Fourie, NSRI Witsand station commander, said: On Monday, 22nd October, 18h00 until the early hours of the morning, off-duty members of NSRI Witsand volunteered to help Fire and Rescue Services and the emergency services who were dealing with a bushfire around the Southern Cape and the town of Vermaaklikheid. A fire line believed to stretch in excess of 25 km.
The Witsand community fire trailer, towed by an off-duty NSRI Witsand crewman’s private vehicle, reported to incident command in the town of Vermaaklikheid and we were tasked to assist fire teams at various places.
Hessequa Municipality, Eden District Municipality. Overberg Fire and Rescue Services, WoF (Working on Fire) and emergency services, Disaster Risk Management, Government Health EMS, the SA Police Services, GouKou Farm watch, Southern Cape Traffic Services, and a large community involvement have been deployed to manage the Fire since Sunday.
We were again deployed between 12h00 and 23h00 on Tuesday and some of our off-duty crew have been deployed again today.
At one point, while protecting a house of the edge of Vermaaklikheid, we ran out of water and were looking for an escape route when one of the Working on Fire Helicopters flew in and drenched us and the surrounding fire making it possible for us to escape safely.
To our knowledge at least 7 structures in and around Vermaaklikheid, and mostly game farms are affected.
The Witsand community and other neighbouring towns in the area who came forward with assistance for the emergency services in the form of donations and refreshments cannot be thanked enough for their support.
Condolences are conveyed to the family, friends, and colleagues of the helicopter pilot who sadly died on duty while combatting the fire.