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Wonder Women

By Leah Moodaley

Face to face with two of the Knysna Inferno’s female firefighters.

Johanna Nicolaai and Charlene Taylor work as firefighters under the jurisdiction of Knysna Municipality. With Charlene in Sedgefield and Johanna in Knysna, they are currently both the only females on their respective fire teams. These extraordinary women risked their lives among the brave who fought the Knysna Inferno in June this year.

Charlene and Johanna paint a vivid picture of what fighting a force of nature during that fateful week was really like. It was a combination of fear, uncertainty and adrenalin. “A fire is something different. You don’t have the upper hand. Anything can happen. We just worked. I can’t count my hours; I gave my life for that fire. One thing you need to do is think on your feet and be quick. But when you get to that fire, something kicks in and you know exactly what to do,” explains Johanna. Charlene adds that although they both worked during the Knysna Fire, they did not fight it from the same location; she was in Elandskraal, while Johanna was in Knysna.

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