This is Taryn Armstrong's account of the occurance:
It was one of the scariest experiences of my life...... I wasn't able to be at home at the time.... I was visiting a friend at the heads, and we were completely unaware that the fire had jumped up the side of the hill where we live. I was in touch with my son caleb and he could see the flames in the distance across the valley ( which is where we assumed the fire was isolated). He was in his room which overlooks this valley. The next thing I got a call from allsound security saying we needed to evacuate the house (where my kids were at the time ) comms went down and there was no way of communicating with them to tell them to get out of the house..... so I went racing through town which was now just thick smoke and traffic backed up.... still trying desperately to get hold of the kids to tell them to to leave and get out of the house.
When we finally got to the turnoff to Knysna Heights to make our way up, there were hundreds of cars trying to get down the hill..... we tried every side road that we could to get to he house but as we got higher the more chaos ensued.
There were palm trees on fire blowing in the gale force winds.... red hot coals like Iava spewing from them, leaving the roads like a lava pit, peoples tires were melting, and cars were stuck everywhere, house were burning, flames were two stories high. It was what I imagined Hell would look like.... people running in the road in the thick smoke carry armfuls of clothing.... screaming .... passing peoples' houses where the old and invalids were banging on windows trapped in in there homes desperately trying to get people's attention for help.
We couldn't see a foot infront of the car, electricity was out and the flames and smoke were so thick we couldn't see where the roads were turning. Eventually trapped on all sides, realizing we could go no further and risk being burnt alive in a trapped car we had to retreat down the hill with all the cars
I eventually managed to find one of my sons in town
He said the smoke got so bad at the house he went outside and saw the flames right there. They ran out and down the hill with their clothes on their back
He was able to take me to my other son and we evacuated the are to safety.
When we could finally go back the following day when the fires had died down a bit we walked into the smouldering mess that was left of our house.
The kids literally had the clothes they evacuated in and nothing else. We have no contents insurance so we have lost everything.
This unfortunate occurance saddly is following other tragedies that the Armstrong family has had to contend with.
It's been an extremely traumatic few years for us as a family. I'm a single mom, my sons father died a year and a half ago and he left absolutely nothing. I took in another child who needed a home as his mother left to find work overseas and couldn't look after him anymore.
I have limited income and three boys to look after on my own, as the sole provider for all three
We are in a really really bad way and I will appreciate any help my kids can get right now.
Please, if there is anything anyone could contribute it would be greatly appreciated. All proceeds will go to rehoming efforts for the Taryn's family. Funding or spreading the word of this cause will greaty help this family in dire need.