Considering the gale force winds of yesterday it does not take much imagination to visualise what would have happened had there been just a spark of fire somewhere in the bush in and around St Francis or indeed close to any of the thatched residences and businesses..

Residents of St Francis will have noticed large scale bush-clearing activity over the past few months. This was made possible by a generous R1-million donation from Santam to the Kouga Municipality.

The goal of bush clearing is to reduce the risk of bush fires damaging or destroying homes in St Francis.

So far, the focus has been on cutting firebreaks. The most recent activity has been in the vicinity of Sea Vista. 

Firebreaks are cut according to local and national regulations. By definition, firebreaks remove ALL vegetation within their boundaries (otherwise they wouldn’t work!). This includes indigenous vegetation. They are carefully planned.

Focus will now shift to clearing the hundreds of overgrown residential plots which are not compliant with regulations. The Fire Department will be issuing notices to property owners whose properties need attention.

As a property owner, you are legally required to comply with these notices. Ignoring a notice is an offence and will lead to legal action, resulting in a fine or, potentially, imprisonment.

If you do not comply, the municipality is also entitled to clear the property on your behalf and recover the costs of clearing from you.

By far the easiest and most cost-effective solution is to contact one of the many local clearing contractors. If you know that your property needs attention, take action before receiving a notice. If you’re not sure, contact the St Francis Bay Property Owners Association (SFPO) which now has a dedicated Bush Clearing portfolio.

Contact Lyn Aitken on 042 294 0594 or Nick Munday at nick@munday.global .

Alternatively, contact Trevor Wright, a member of the municipal Fire Risk Reduction Committee. Trevor offers a local bush clearing project management service that includes plot inspections, sourcing of quotations, overseeing and signing-off the work and liaison with the Kouga Municipality Fire Department. – Contact Trevor on 076 589 0014.

Please take it seriously! Lives and properties are at stake…