Last week, I sank into depression. One moment I was there and then I was gone… into a smudgy flow that carried me like a coffin towards fire disasters.
My mind burned in the Great Knysna Fire – so much loss; how Government failed us whilst lying how good they were; how they threatened me; and that, without justice, life-saving lessons may never be learned, and thus destruction repeated.
On that first day, I awoke octogenarian friends who’d been unaware of their neighbour’s house aflame a few metres from their wooden, bedroom window. The massively, uncomfortable fact is that if the fire had reached our town at night, with no one warning us, our tragedy may have ‘achieved’ one of the worst death tolls in the world. It’s ironic that we have to thank the 80-120km/h wind that brought 2000 degree centigrade and choking smoke into our June 7 2017 afternoon.
Brooding, sad and angry that no one seems to cares about justice beyond insurance claims and litigation, I found myself watching many documentaries about fire disasters in the USA and Australia. I did that for one and half days, only leaving bed to pour or piss fruit juice and tea.
I found comfort in survivors who’d understand. Although I never cried during our challenge, I had tears in my eyes for strangers and our own dead.
South Africa’s biased Media refuses to do its job when the Democratic Alliance (DA) is implicated. I hope I somehow survive the politicians and one day write The Great Knysna Fire book, shaming the villains and praising citizen heroes, from rescuers to charity workers.
But today I’ve chosen 4 videos for you. I share in the hope that some of you will watch them back to back for most emotion. I want you to understand too!
We begin with the Paradise Fire in California, more well known as The Camp Fire, after the area where cheap electrical power lines sparked the disaster. Our fires were similar in that they lasted approximately two weeks, and repeated Government failure left many citizens without warning. Even after the fire, my DA ward councillor took weeks to visit our area which was one of the worst affected – 20 of 24 homes in my complex erased from existence. Coincidentally, over the river and opposite my area called Kanonkop, was the suburb of Paradise.
Knysna lost 1000 buildings and 8 people, the taxpayer suffering R3.4-billion in damage. Paradise, a town half our size, lost 18,804 buildings and 85-87 people. Their damage was a whopping R240-billion.
Thereafter, we move onto body camera footage of the Santa Rosa Fire, the full length documentary, ‘Black Friday’.
Lastly, there’s my beloved Knysna and the biggest wildfire in South Africa’s history. I show you before and after photos I took of the place I once called home, wooden houses in a forest turned to ash.