RotoTank Cape springs to rescue after Knysna fires


PHOTO: Ready to roll … to help those in need. RotoTank Cape, already with a reputation of being able to load more tanks on a flatbed than anyone else in South Africa, got going as soon as the SOS from Knysna was received

SURVIVORS of fire disasters, mindful of the fear and danger of such incidents, are most likely to be ready to assist others suffering such a plight – and it came as no surprise therefore when RotoTank Cape sprang into action quickly during the fires that struck Knysna in July.

Having suffered a major fire at its plant in Moorreesberg in the Western Cape in 2014, when the entire factory was devastated, personnel at RotoTank Cape were well aware of the dangers posed, not to say anything of the difficulties of recovery. On that occasion, the fire started at midday during the week and progressed so rapidly that the company’s staff were powerless to prevent the spread as the blaze consumed all the material on site and destroyed the equipment and building. It was all over in just two hours, in spite of the local fire brigade, plus reinforcements, doing all they could.

But the fires in Knysna presented a far more serious peril: spread over a wider front and fueled by strong winds, over 400 houses were destroyed and a large number of people left homeless.

With its experience of supplying water tanks and other large roto moulded products to customers across the Western Cape and as far east as Askam and to the Namibian border and beyond, RotoTank Cape is no stranger to extended logistics activities. The company was in a position to help when the Knysna fires broke out, and sprang into action virtually as soon as news of the extreme nature of the fires spread.

Part of the problem during the fire as well as in the recovery was that water supply had been cut off to many areas in and around Knysna, so there was an urgent need for emergency supply – and roto moulded tanks were a most obvious solution. Forty 2,500-litre tanks plus a number of the flatter transport tanks were loaded and dispatched with haste. Working with its local supplier in the Southern Cape town and rescue personnel, the tanks were placed at strategic spots, filled and operational within a very short period.

“One thing led to another,” said RotoTank Cape logistics manager Christo van der Merwe, “we ended up transporting a lot of other donated items.”

The total value of RotoTank’s donation was substantial, with the reward being simply the expressions of gratitude received as well as, in some cases where the victims were too traumatised to respond, just knowing that their team effort had made a difference to many of the people of Knysna too.