RSA Fire Warning

South Africa:  
Fire warnings in Cape as heat goes on and on 

24 February 2002

Source and Copyright: Independent Online 


By Ashley Smith and Judy Damon 
The Cape Town fire department has warned the public to be on the alert for possiblerunaway fires as the Western Cape’s heatwave continues, with temperatures expected to soar to well over 30°C for most of the week. Rescue workers have also warned hikers not to venture out unprepared in thesweltering heat after an Elsies River woman died, possibly of dehydration, while shewas hiking down Table Mountain on Saturday. 
Cape Town weather forecasters said temperatures would only start dropping from Thursday. 
They also issued a fire warning. On Sunday, a maximum of 34°C was recorded inCape Town. On Friday the mercury reached 33°C and on Thursday the maximum was 35°C. Today a maximum temperature of 32°C is expected. 
A spokesman for the fire department said they had received several call-outs forsmall grass fires over the past few days. 
“The grass is extremely dry and a cigarette thrown on a patch is all you need to starta raging fire. We are appealing to people to be careful, not to throw cigarette buttsout of vehicle windows and not to allow their children to play with matches.” 
On Sunday thousands of Capetonians flocked to the city’s beaches and mountaintrails, while others waited for the midday heat to subside before venturing outdoors. 
On Saturday, however, rescuers raced up Table Mountain in an unsuccessful bid tosave Sally Koopman, 54, who was on her way down the mountain with about 40 members of her church group when she collapsed and died. Her sister, SusanaBrown, was also on the hike and was with Koopman when she died. 
“It was difficult, but we wanted to finish the hike and we made it to the top,” she said.
At 2.40pm, Koopman suddenly collapsed. She was dizzy, confused and started hallucinating. Brown thought her sister was having a bad reaction to the heat andwould recover. 
First aider Isaac Antonie stayed with her while Brown raced down the mountain forhelp. Hiker Martin Richards gave Koopman mouth-to-mouth until Metro Rescue doctor Gerald Delbock arrived. He too was unable to resuscitate her. 
Delbock suspects Koopman may have had a heart attack.  He warned hikers to wear wide-brimmed hats and sunblock, take enough to eat anddrink with them and carry a cellphone and first-aid kit. If they experienced heatexhaustion, they should slowly make their way home, he said. 
Although the temperature is not expected to peak at the 37°C recorded in someareas of the Western Cape on Friday, the prediction for tomorrow is around 34°C. 
Metro Rescue’s emergency number is 021 948 9900. 


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