Firefighting Pilot Killed After Helicopter Goes Down While Fighting Garden Route Blaze

Firefighting Pilot Killed After Helicopter Goes Down While Fighting Garden Route Blaze

A Working on Fire (WoF) helicopter pilot was killed when his chopper went down on Tuesday over Riversdale, while he was helping to fight a blaze, WoF spokesperson Linton Rensburg said.

"It is confirmed that the helicopter went down near the fire at approximately 09:45 on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, while conducting firefighting operations," the organisation said.

He was flying a Huey near Vermaaklikheid in the Riversdale area along the Garden Route.

The cause of the crash was not yet known, but the Civil Aviation Authority is investigating.

Condolences to the family

The Western Cape government expressed condolences to the family and friends of the pilot.

"The family, friends and the community of firefighters are in our thoughts at this time,” said Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Vermaaklikheid falls in the Hessequa municipal boundary and is between Knysna and Hermanus.

The Western Cape Provincial Fire services have already deployed resources from the Overberg region to the area to assist with the blaze, according to Bredell.

The Garden Route District Municipality posted on Facebook that the fire at Vermaaklikheid was burning on the eastern and western flank of Duiwenhoks river.

The Western flank was contained on Tuesday morning, and mopping up is being conducted by local volunteers and Enviro Volunteer Wildfire Services.

However, the Eastern flank was the main concern with firefighters on the ground and on the air battling flames on a 3,5km line, trying to prevent it from jumping the Puintjie/Blombos road.

Heatwave in Hessequa

So far, seven homes have been destroyed, as well as multiple smaller structures.

In the meantime, a heatwave is moving through the Hessequa area and winds are strong.

At the scene so far there are over 50 firefighters from WoF, the Garden Route District Municipality, George Municipality, Gou Kou farm watch, and the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association, with fire trucks and other equipment.

The City of Cape Town fire and rescue services has also been put on standby to provide additional backup if required.

The public was urged to report fire outbreaks across the province as soon as possible using the emergency number 112.

Jenni Evans, news24

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