Knysna fires sparked by lightning strike, not arson, finds expert

Forensic scientist Dr David Klatzow has ruled out arson as the cause of the Knysna fires that killed seven people and left many homeless two months ago.

Klatzow has released an alternative report into the fires that wrecked part of Knysna in the Western Cape in June.

He says that contrary to speculation, this fire was sparked by a lightning strike in April which smouldered until heavy winds fanned it into a full blown wild fire.

There was a massive lightning strike way back then which produced a smouldering combustion on the floor of unkempt forestry land, its smouldered until the wind came up on June 7.

Dr David Klatzow, Forensic scientist

Nothing was going to stop that fire.

Dr David Klatzow, Forensic scientist

There needs to be a proper unpacking of what went on, with cross-examination and evidence.

Dr David Klatzow, Forensic scientist

Read: Knysna Fire Report: Telltale signs of human activity at origin of fire

Last week, Knysna fire chief Clinton Manual released a report following his own investigations into the fire which he says was due to human activity.

Klatzow says Manual's original report is based on misapprehensions and has inaccurate information. .

People must stop pointing fingers at anybody.

Dr David Klatzow, Forensic scientist

The fire killed seven people and damaged or destroyed at least 1 000 homes in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay so much that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille declared Knysna and Plettenberg Bay a disaster zone.

Read: Investigation report: Knysna fire sparked by 'human activity'

Klatzow says it’s unlikely that the blaze was caused by human negligence or deliberate criminal actions.

His investigation was commissioned by lobby group AfriForum and he says Zille is considering an inquiry into the cause of the fire.

Take a listen to Klatzow explain his findings:

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