Citizens involvement on the ground would reduce damage - expert #KnysnaFire

Western Cape Disaster Management's Davin Chown says enough resources have now been put in place to deal with wildfires in the province.

Fires in the Knysna region have been contained and firefighters are now making sure they don’t spread any further.

An estimated 12 000 people were evacuated from their homes due to the blaze which started last week.

Speaking on whether the matter was dealt with timeously, Chown says while operational staff has done an excellent job under the circumstances, better preventative measures could have been taken.

Did we get there on time, did we have the right scale of response given the scale of the event? And probably we can all say no.

Davin Chown , Member of the Western Cape Disaster Management group known as EVS

If you look at a place like Knysna and you look at the wooded nature of the place, the natural vegetation.... the limited resources that they have in the area, the question that many of us were asking is if you from a preparedness point of view look at this place you would immediately want to put in place a control burn kind of process.

Davin Chown , Member of the Western Cape Disaster Management group known as EVS

READ: Insurance companies to speedily deal with Knysna fire claims

ALSO READ: #KnysnaFire: Residents, animals evacuated from Buffalo Bay area

Many people may say we have done the actuarial calculation and it's 1 in 10 000 chance, and that is all a nice preparatory policy preventive debate that people have. But in our lingo, we always say always expect the unexpected and this is exactly what has happened this time.

Davin Chown , Member of the Western Cape Disaster Management group known as EVS

Farmers in the Free State, Eastern Cape are dealing with the same thing, he adds.

We seem not to be learning how to join these dots, we seem not to be behaving purely from a preventive point of view., sit down and saying what is the real likelihood, not the policy debate, can we get the proper resources in place....

Davin Chown , Member of the Western Cape Disaster Management group known as EVS

He says there needs to be a serious debate on how to get the proper resources in place.

Communities cannot always rely on government to send in help. He says citizens need to be involved and prepared to help as well.

it takes a long time to bring in firefighters from all around the country and by that time a great deal of damage has been done. If communities were involved on the ground this could be minimised, he says.

Listen to Chown explaining how communities could become involved in assisting during disasters:

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