On Wednesday 7 June, for reasons still unknown, fire started raging near Karatara/Ruigtevlei outside Sedgefield. Helped along by 130km/h winds, it soon raged through Rheenendal and reached Knysna around 3:00am on Thursday.

Knysna was evacuated, the CBD and neighbourhoods became aflood with cars filled with pets and some precious belongings. The damage caused by the fire is still being assessed, but roughly 20% of Knysna was burnt by ‘selective’ and unpredictable fires. About 350 fire fighters from around the country were flown in to assist – simply because the fires were like what we ain’t NEVER seen!! Apocalyptic stuff!

Trucks loaded with hope and supplies arrived from as far off as Swakopmund and Australia. Quite a few accommodation establishments were damaged or burnt to the ground, although none of them SAYTC members. Besides myself and Evelyn from Ocean Odyssey, we are not aware of other members that were drastically effected – this being personally, not commercially.

Being the Garden Route, we saw a massive and beautiful pouring out of love and help from afar. Locals put hands, pockets and initiatives together to help all that was affected with clothes, food and accommodation. Funds have been pooled and we as Knysna and surrounds are good for now.

How can you help?

It’s business as usual folks! And we need it more than ever. To start rebuilding our town, recuperating reserves and reforesting our indigenous forests. The ‘GEES’ is great and tangible down here!! There are lots of projects that are launched and rolling already.

I truly believe that tourism can play a fundamental role in our region right now. We are working to initiate a two-way flow between visitors and the community and even more importantly, our nature!

If anyone wants to get more involved, please get in touch with our members or myself to see how WE can do more together.

ALL parks are open (Some hiking trails were closed in Tsitsikamma due to wind). ALL activities are running.

Our scenery from the N2 is a bit scorched and can be shocking. Please brace guests but send them all the same!!

Sunny Smokey Regards from Knysna
Heinie

Garden Route ablaze with hope!