Aerial firefighting has begun to douse runaway Richards Bay blaze
Bombing, aerial firefighting and the release of dry chemical products started early on Monday morning to douse a runaway fire in Richards Bay.
City of uMhlathuze spokesperson Bongani Gina said the operation to kill the flames by suffocating burning stockpiles of woodchips began at 2am.
“On September 30 at approximately 1.10pm the City of uMhlathuze fire services received an urgent call regarding an incident near the NCT company, adjacent to Foscor, which handles wood-related materials. Immediate action was taken.”
“ The fire appeared to have originated at a conveyor belt used for storage of wooden chips. A comprehensive investigation will be conducted to determine the precise cause of the fire. At the time of arrival, the fire had engulfed woodchip stockpiles,” he said.
Mondi fire services, Transnet fire services, South 32, RBM and other private companies arrived at the scene.
“The weather conditions on the day posed significant challenges, with temperatures soaring to an estimated 39ºC. The situation became increasingly complex as the wind speed intensified and shifted to a northerly direction, providing additional fuel to the fire. At one point, woodchip sparks were carried over John Ross Highway, igniting the green belt opposite the highway and the neighbouring residential area of Arboretum, raising concerns for nearby residents.”
“Under the expert command of the City of uMhlathuze fire chief, fire and rescue teams were swiftly dispatched to different areas of Arboretum,” Gina said.
The fire in the residential area was successfully brought under control with no reported loss of property or lives.
“Our focus remains on monitoring and addressing the ongoing fire at NCT, which is expected to require additional time, possibly even days, for complete containment. The collaborative response from concerned agencies and the community has been overwhelming with water tankers made available to provide much-needed assistance,” Gina said.
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