Pretoria: Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has sent condolences to the families of Darrel Rea and Jastun Visagie, who lost their lives battling a mountainside fire in the Bains Kloof area near Wellington in the Western Cape.
“At a time of great sadness for the families of the deceased and for all of us as the Department of Environmental Affairs, we salute their bravery and dedication to their work,” Minister Molewa said.
Rea and Visagie both passed away on Thursday afternoon. The men were experienced fire fighters. Rea was Working on Fire’s chief pilot for helicopters, while Visagie worked as the helicopter safety leader.
“They risked their own lives to protect others. We are immensely grateful for their contribution, not just the residents of the fire affected areas but all South Africans,” Minister Molewa said.
The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash that claimed the men’s lives.
“The tragedy comes a month after veteran Working on Fire pilot Willem Hendrik ‘Bees’ Marais was killed during an attempted forced landing in the Table Mountain National Park,” the department said.
The department said the fatalities were particularly tragic considering that until last month, there had only been a single fatality throughout the programme’s 11-year history.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS