Image: Kathryn Witthuhn, George.
An intense heatwave and gale force winds in the Western Cape resulted in devastating run-away fires threatening the towns of George and Karatara in the Southern Cape Area since 24 October 2018. An AREDN: Amateur Radio Joint Operational Center was established at 18h00 on the 29 October 2018 and radio amateurs put on standby when parts of George experienced Telkom Landline- and power outages in the Knysna area. Several new fires were also reported due to lightning. Reports were also received from radio amateurs living in the effected areas that they were placed on standby to evacuate their homes. The order was later withdrawn when the wind thankfully changed direction. Radio Amateurs in the Southern Cape were called to task on WhatsApp to make their amateur radio stations available for emergency communications should commercial communications fail due to the fires. The AREDN: Amateur Radio JOC is currently active on AREDN Mossel Bay Mesh Network, Echolink, AllStar, Twitter and Zello . The Amateur Radio JOC will remain active until all fires are brought under control.
The death toll as a result of fires in the Southern Cape Area now stands at 7, while around 840 people were evacuated to safety. Disaster relief continue unabated.
Update 31 October 2018 : Death toll now increased to 8 (eight).
J. Terblanche ZS1I
AREDN: Amateur Radio Joint Operational Centre
30 October 2018