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Garden Route fire claims eight lives

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Eight people, including children, are confirmed dead in devastating veld and forest fires in Karatara near Knysna in the Southern Cape.

Fires also raged in several other areas in the region. At one stage residents in an area of George were evacuated after a mountain fire threatened their homes.

Gale force winds are now hampering fire-fighting efforts along the Garden Route and has now also forced the closure of the Robinson Pass which links Mossel Bay to Oudtshoorn.

The Robinson Pass that links Mossel Bay to Oudtshoorn is now open again, while the Outeniqua and Montague passes still remain closed,  as a result of fires on the Outeniqua Mountain range above George.

Fires are also burning in Riversdale, Tsitsikamna and in Ladismith in the little Karoo.

Most fires in George were contained by last night, but flare-ups are expected due to the excessive winds.

It’s also raining, which might help with the fires.

More than 16,000 hectares of vegetation and forest have been reduced to ash while more than 400 firefighters have been deployed to battle the blaze.

Western Cape Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell said: “It’s not the first big fire that we’ve had, this is our seventh big fire in two weeks and we’ve also lost about 2,500 informal houses.”

[Source: SABC news and EWN]
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