Knysna fire finding may open litigation floodgates
Publish date: 09 July 2018
Issue Number: 781
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
A CSIR report on the causes of the Knysna blaze in June 2017 that engulfed 700 buildings could open litigation floodgates, a Netwerk24 report notes. CSIR scientists found the cause of the fire was most likely a lightning strike on 22 March which caused an underground fire that smouldered for more than four months. Satellite pictures obtained from Nasa and the European space agency ESA show that the fire was smouldering for months before strong winds caused it to spread rapidly. Eight people died in the blaze and the damage to property amounted to billions of rands. Lawyers have already given the Eden District Municipality notice of a claim for R21m. Jean du Plessis, of Morajane Attorneys, says in a letter of demand that the municipality was grossly negligent. The residents claim they informed the municipality and fire brigade about the smouldering fires, but their warnings were ignored. According to the fire chief, the fire was caused through arson or negligence in June.