A gale force Southeaster, blowing at over 50km/h on Friday and predicted to continue over the weekend, threatens to cause flare-ups on the fire-ravaged Table Mountain area above Muizenberg, Cape Town emergency services said. Wynand Wessels, director of emergency services, said firefighters have managed to control 95 percent of the fire, which burned across about 2000ha of fynbos and other vegetation since Thursday. Wessels said two helicopters used to waterbomb the fire were withdrawn at 8.10am on Friday morning, because low cloud cover reduced visibility. However, the helicopters which operated in tandem since 5.45am had done their job in quelling fresh outbreaks and damping down the scorched earth.
He said 12 firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation “What they have done up to that stage is sufficient,” he said. Wessels said ground crews remained in the area, patrolling in vehicles and watching out for hotspots or flare-ups.
Since Thursday an area from Boyes drive above Kalk Bay, through to Steenberg, Swanswyk and up to the edge of Tokai forest had been affected by the runaway fire. Wessels said one house in Steenberg and a guard house at its entrance, both thatch-roofed, had been destroyed in the fire. Two vehicles on the property also went up in flames. Two “very old” uninhabited cottages opposite Westlake golf course, and two metal structures used for storage, were also destroyed. He said 12 firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, and one member of the public was treated by emergency personnel after suffering an asthma attack. Wessels said with dry, hot and windy conditions predicted for the weekend, Capetonians should exercise “great caution and absolute awareness” when doing anything that could cause fires, and not use open fires or carelessly discard cigarette butts. Members of the public spotting a fire or flare up were urged to call the landline number 107 or 021-480-7700 when dialling from a cellphone. – Sapa