The Garden Route district is located along a 300 kilometer stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa in Western Cape province, about 450 kilometers east of Cape Town. It’s a popular tourist destination, especially in spring and summer. However, its lush vegetation is prone to field fires, particularly in drier times.
In late October 2018, field fires raged across the area, with ongoing blazes in the municipality of George and the Outeniqua Pass area. Hundreds of municipality firefighters, area volunteers, and firefighters assisting from other districts fought to contain the fire. Seven fatalities were reported, and the pass was closed for an extended period. Entire suburban sections of George, not far from thickly wooded areas along the Garden Route, were evacuated.
Unfortunately, throughout much of the western half of the USA, wildfires have become all too common. Moreover, with the recent fires in California this month, things seem to be getting worse. Wildfires and other natural disasters can have significant impacts to communications systems affecting not only personal cellular communications but also first responder and other mission-critical communications. Fire, police, emergency workers and other first responders need communications during natural disasters more than ever and this is precisely the time when thing just need to work.