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 says it’s unlikely that the blaze was caused by human negligence or deliberate criminal actions.
His investigation was commissioned by lobby group AfriForum.
Klatzow says that while multiple fires broke out at the same time, the Knysna blaze caused the most damage.
He says that contrary to speculation, this fire was sparked by a lightning strike, that smouldered until heavy winds fanned it into a full blown wild fire.
“It’s likely that it ignited something that became oxygen limiting. There was oxygen limitation. In other words, it crept into the undergrowth and there it smouldered away and it will smoulder away until it gets oxygen.”
He says that the blaze was made worse by high-speed winds.
“The wind blew on that fire and carried it into the canopies and it was unstoppable once that had happened.”
AfriForum says it hopes that Dr Klatzow's report can be used to prevent similar disasters in the future.