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"The fire now has been half extinguished, no more immediate threat to other houses. We don't have any final figure yet but it would be more than 100 houses burnt down," said municipal spokeswoman Laura-Leigh Randall.

This was said in an sms update sent just before midnight.

For hours firefighters battled with raging flames which were fanned by a strong westerly wind.

Ten fire engines had been brought to fight the flames and more had been called in from the Nelson Mandela Bay and Koukamma municipalities to help, Randall said.

"The cause of the fire is not known but the fire started at about 5.30pm at Royal Wharf developments which is mainly townhouses," she said.

All residents in the area had been asked to evacuate and a temporary joint operations centre had been set up at the local police station.

Most of the houses in the area are holiday homes.