At 14h19, Monday, 20th April, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following a request for assistance from Cape Nature and Knysna Fire and Rescue Services to assist with fighting a wild fire.
Knysna Fire and Rescue Services, Working On Fire and Cape Nature rangers were fighting a wild fire that started on Sunday night in the Goukamma Nature Reserve, Groenvlei area, Sedgefield. The fire was burning in reeds in the vicinity of Lake Pleasant (between Lake Pleasant and the N2 Freeway) and towards the direction of Knysna. In trying to stop the fire from spreading they had devised a plan but it required a boat and they requested NSRI Wilderness to come and assist.
Firefighting helicopters had been requested but were reportedly 4 hours away. The plan to try and strategically cut off the fire required urgency and hence the plan to involve a boat, fighting the fire from on the water.
We towed our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF ROTARY 100 to the scene. Cape Nature supplied a water pump and hoses and NSRI Wilderness launched onto Lake Pleasant manoeuvring between the reeds to fight the fire from the flank. The plan was to prevent the fire from spreading in the direction of Knysna, while the main fire fighting team built a fire break, in an effort to outflank the fire. If all went according to plan, the fire would then move towards an area of easier access, where fire trucks and firemen could head the fire off.
By fighting the fire from on the water NSRI were able to prevent the fire from crossing a strategic point in this outflanking fire fighting manoeuvre, while the firefighters fought the approaching fire headon from the front.
According to the Fire Commanders their fighting a fire headon is not a normal procedure. The wet reeds burning, coupled with the NSRI’s outflanking fire fighting effort and the access for firemen to head off the fire, made the procedures relatively safe.
The plan worked and the fire has been completely extinguished.
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