As Kouga firefighters continue to battle fires in and around the region, Kouga Municipality has issued an appeal to residents to desist from making fires around Guy Fawkes Day as this poses a danger to human lives, animals, property and the environment.
This unofficial commemoration, marked on 5 November annually, is characterised by bonfires, the swinging of burning tyres which are often left unattended on the roads and the launching of fireworks.
Guy Fawkes Day has been part of British history since 1605 when plans to bomb the House of Lords and kill King James I was foiled.
One of the plotters of the explosion – Guy Fawkes – was caught in the basement of the building with the explosives to be used in the assassination. He was later executed, together with his co-plotters.
The celebrations were exported to the colonies of the British empire in later years.
Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the so-called “celebrations” prompted by this event could not be ignored, as they are illegal and pose a serious risk to lives and property.
“The burning tyres leave our tar roads with significant damage while vehicles, including emergency vehicles, have to navigate around the tyres.
“Animals are further tormented by the sounds of fireworks and sometimes fall victim to participants who use them as props and sacrifices,” he said.
Hendricks said the environment wasn’t spared as tyre carbon filled the air, affecting people and plants alike.
“Besides this, there is always a risk of fires starting, again putting lives in danger,” he said.
He added that the municipality alone could not deal with curbing the scourge as these activities took place across all towns and in almost every street.
“It needs a collective effort, including educational campaigns,” he said.
Over the past few days, Kouga experienced gale force winds gusting at speeds of more than 90km an hour, thus making the area vulnerable to fires.
Towns in the Garden Route, including Kouga’s neighbour Koukamma, were hit by devastating fires which have been taking days to extinguish. By Tuesday eight people, including children, had lost their lives in George.