Veld and Forest Fires are burning in the wildland-urban interface of the City of Cape Town since days. Hot and windy conditions are expected for the coming days.
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13 January 2005
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Wildfire rampages through Cape homes One home and a number of buildings were burned down, large tracts of mountainside ravaged and about five people admitted to hospital when a runaway fire swept over the Muizenberg and Kalk Bay mountains into the Tokai valley.
Firefighters were continuing to battle the blaze in a roaring south-easter after midnight.
The joint operations committee at Lakeside fire station reported on Thursday night that “about 10 buildings”, including a home, had been destroyed by the fire.
Under threat: Wildfires burning out of control along the Table Mountain chain near Muizenberg have damaged several homes in the area.
Photo: Andrew Ingram, Cape Times
Pippa Ashley-Cooper lost everything A spokesperson said he understood four of the buildings were near the Westlake Golf Course and the others on the Steenberg and Silverstream private estates below Ou Kaapseweg.
Pippa Ashley-Cooper lost everything as the cottage in which she lived at Oude Raapkraal, near the Westlake Golf Club, went up in flames.
An adjoining property, where the owners had cut down alien vegetation, was damaged as the felled Port Jackson, which had not been removed, went up in flames. It is believed this aided the spread of the fire.
Five people – among them a resident and an asthmatic security guard from the Steenberg Estate – were taken to hospital.
Another Steenberg Estate resident was treated for burns. A man from Muizenberg was treated for respiratory arrest after inhaling smoke. The wind speed was expected to rise to 50km/h Metro doctor Wayne Smith said a fireman had to be taken to hospital, but “was OK for now”.
Because of the dry, hot conditions at this time of year, there was an extreme danger of runaway fires, said manager of Table Mountain National Park, Brett Myrdal. Smokers had to be careful when disposing of cigarette butts.
“Table Mountain National Park appeals to private landowners to clear their land of alien vegetation. The fire picked up significantly when it reached alien plant species at, for instance, the Silvermine Naval Base.
“We also want to thank those who dedicate time and effort to fighting fires, often putting their lives at risk.”
In a status report late on Thursday night, Johan Minnie of the City of Cape Town Emergency Services said the fire had been reported at 12.57pm and that a firefighting helicopter was operational at 1pm.
The fire reportedly broke out in Pecks Valley in the Table Mountain National Park natural conservation area above Boyes Drive, jumped Boyes Drive and burned towards Bunkers Road before being checked by firefighters.
“At that stage property was threatened and evacuation of all homes on Bunkers Road was ordered,” Minnie said.
“The SA Police and traffic services assisted with notifying residents, using public address systems installed in cars.
The fire spread rapidly north and west through the Table Mountain National Park and jumped the watershed before being checked along Westlake and Steenberg.
With the greatly increased wind speed, it had become “very aggressive”.
Precautionary measures had been taken and lookouts placed.
Earlier, evacuations were ordered on Bunkers Road, Lakeside, the Steenberg Estate and the Steenberg Golf Course.
The fire damaged four buildings in Westlake and six on the Steenberg Estate.
The wind speed was expected to rise to 50km/h on Friday and there was no chance of rain, Minnie said.
He appealed to motorists to avoid the area and not to leave their vehicles close to it.
Michael Abrahams, senior divisional officer at the joint operational centre at the Lakeside fire station, said last night: “Firefighters are damping down at Ou Kaapseweg, Westlake and Boyes Drive. There are four fire engines on Zwaanswyk Road to prevent the spread of the fire. No more homes are under threat.”
Steenberg Hotel general manager Gaby Gramm said guests had been asked to move to the golf clubhouse, which was further from the fire.
Source: The Cape Times