Visual update on the fire situation at Richards Bay
The good news is that a significant semblance of order and control over the fire is now being felt on site.
First of all, the protective measures taken to ensure the safety of the TWK, and other neighbours have paid off.
The bombers constantly kept the TWK chip pile wet and ground crews gradually worked away at the burning BayFibre wattle chip pile to create as wide a safety break between TWK and NCT as heat, wind direction and safety factors would allow.
Local businesses continued to rally in support and for which we are immensely grateful.
Assistance continued to be rendered in the form of high-pressure water pump and pipe extensions, diesel supply, a Cherry Picker machine, earth moving equipment, portable lighting … in fact the list is too long to do it justice. As for the selfless donations of food, pharmaceuticals, coffee, and much, much more, words simply do not suffice to express the fire fighter’s gratitude.
At present, the weather is calm and is allowing the Cherry Picker operators to remove sheets of burnt zinc from the stacker above the BayFibre wattle pile. These zinc sheets, or parts thereof, pose high risk to ground crews, hence their removal as a safety measure. Heavy earth moving equipment is systematically being used to dig away at the smoldering wood pile to spread the chip material and cool it down with strategically deployed water tankers. Great progress has been made and by the end of the weekend it was gratifying to see just how much of the chip pile had been “demolished”. This will be a steady but progressive operation over days to come. Obviously, the immense residual heat contained in the chip pile makes for a careful and tactical approach
The Richards Bay Wood Chips gum chip pile continues to burn away. It’s situation however is such that the fire poses no danger to the surrounds. It is being closely monitored and allowed to burn. Already the height of the pile has reduced significantly. Less material equals quicker extinguishing.
There have been absolutely no reports direct from site or local medical facilities of any injuries. We are really proud of this achievement and offer full credit to the awareness and sense of responsibility embraced by the fire crews and other personnel.
The wind over the next few days is in our favour and will offer smoke respite to the townsfolk. That said however, the plume experienced during the course of the week is greatly reduced, also illustrating the great strides that the firefighters have made
Damage and forensic assessments are likely to commence this week. As the smoke begins to clear however, we do take heart in the fact that there are likely salvageable facilities and equipment. Come what may however, a rebuild is a definite and already the NCT team is raring to start this process!
DANNY KNOESEN – General Manager
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