Today marks the fourth commemoration of the inferno that swept through Knysna and surrounding areas on 7 June 2017. “The sheer magnitude of the damage and destruction of that time is almost unthinkable today,” remembers Knysna Executive Mayor Elrick van Aswegen. “Yet we know how many lost their possessions, homes, and loved ones to the blaze.”
Fire-damaged properties still dot the landscape of Knysna’s neighbourhoods and some affected residents have left to start a fresh life elsewhere. Most have stayed, either rebuilding their homes or moving on to a different one, but remaining in Knysna.
“We are a resilient people,” said van Aswegen. “I have the utmost respect for those who suffered damage and loss, but who carry on carrying on regardless. I am also proud to call the residents of this municipal area my community – a community whose members risked their own lives to save others; and who pulled together and worked tirelessly to assist those who needed it with shelter, food, clothes and other goods.”
“Many of us will always carry the effects of this devastating natural disaster with us. But you need not carry it alone,” he concluded. “We have lifted one another through many difficult times before, and we shall continue to be there for one another. Yes, we must remember the fire. More importantly, we must celebrate our abilities to recover from disaster and remember our strength, our empathy and our sense of community.”