THORNHILL – The devastation of the ongoing fires in the Eastern Cape has left an aftermath of destruction and despair. According to Mr Marius Blignaut, Forest Officer for Sarah Baartman West Fire Protection Association, the fire was caused on Wednesday afternoon by extreme wind which caused two electricity lines to blow over on Longmore. It caused sparks and with the severe weather conditions the fire was soon out of control. In just a few seconds the fire spread through the plantation and onto neighbouring farms. Firefighters, foresters from MTO and community members from Thornhill jumped in to make sure no lives or homes were lost. Their main function was to protect life and property. “Through all the adversity we recognise the resilience and true spirit of our people, and the bravery and courage displayed by all those who have fought on the lines and assisted those that have been stranded and left homeless. Through it all there is still a strong sense of community that we only comprehend in times like these,” says Mr Lawrence Polkinghorne, CEO of the MTO Group.

Members from the community did their utmost best to assist those who were in need. Within one hour they were able to evacuate all the homes on the Longmore plantation. Over 200 people had to evacuate and were taken to the Katriena Felix community hall. Many of them didn’t know if they will have homes when they returned. On Friday morning a Disaster Management meeting was held in the local library where it was declared that the people were able to return to their homes. Over 200 firefighters fought tirelessly throughout the night to save their homes. “We take for granted the compassion and selflessness that people have in their DNA, it is now that we can be grateful to live amongst heroes.” said Polkinghorne.

It is in tough times like these that communities get together. Members of from surrounding areas joined forces to ensure that everyone on the fire line have enough food, water and something to keep them warm. The fire victims were kept safe and warm in the community hall. They received food, enough water and medical attention. The contributions have been so big that the Thornhill community will now be able to assist neighbouring towns if need be.

Currently the fire has been anchored, which means it is contained but not a hundred percent. There are 209 firefighters on the fire line working endlessly. So far no fatalities have been reported.

“On behalf of MTO I would like to offer our deepest sympathies and support, our teams are fighting tirelessly, we join the many brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us. We are truly grateful to all of you; we are humbled by the strength of community and generosity of many.” said Polkinghorne.

MTO would also like to thank the following people for their generous donations throughout the week, Sarah Baartman District, Graig Wilson from Easthouse Creative, everyone who dropped off donations at the Humansdorp police station, Marius Blignaut, Sarah Baartman Disaster Management, Chrisma Vorster from Harcourts, Thornhill police, JBay VCS School, Mentorskraal, Pick ‘n Pay Jeffreys Bay, Marina Wharf, Karin Kirkman, Woodridge College, Thornhill Hotel and Pep Stores Patensie.

– [ Lia van Zyl ]