Scorcher puts firefighters under pressure

Scorcher puts firefightersunder pressure

7February 2005

publishedby IOL 

High and dry: The bush around the Devil’s Peak quarry in Cape Town 
caught fire just after midday on Sunday 
and the blaze took 60 firefighters and volunteers three hours to extinguish. 
Photo: Andrew Ingram, Cape Times

Cape Town was scorching hot on Sunday, with temperatures between the mid- and high-30s and while many people were baking in the sun, firefighters battled a blaze for more than three hours near Devil’s Peak.

Another large fire spread north through bush and grassland around Kanonkop near Atlantis.

Around mid-day firefighters were called into action at the quarry at the bottom of Devil’s Peak. About 60 officers were deployed, including staff from the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).

With the help of six fire engines, two water tankers, two helicopters and one rescue vehicle, they soon brought the fire under control.

But the high temperatures didn’t make the work of firefighters any easier.

In the central business district the mercury hit 40°C and in Malmesbury it rose above 43°C, according to the Cape Town weather office.

South Peninsula co-ordinator Sebastian Martin said: “The fire was quite big… We are glad that we got it sorted out before the wind turned so that no houses were in any real danger.”

TMNP technical and fire manager Philip Prins said there was speculation that the blaze might have been started by children playing in the quarry, but an investigation would be held.

Prins said the fire worked its way up the quarry’s steep embankment and up the slope of Devil’s Peak.

Blouberg fire department acting manager Steve Abrahamse said firefighters tackling the Atlantis blaze had saved all homes in the area, but the Milkwood Wholesale Nursery was razed. Owner Jane Hobbs said she and husband Arthur, had lost three greenhouses, a shade house and “lots of plants”.

“There had been a comedy of errors as the fire spread because the local fire department’s vehicles were not working and we called for the helicopter to come and firebomb the fire,” said Hobbs.

When the two helicopters eventually arrived she had lost 26 hectares to the flames, Hobbs said.

Abrahamse said last night: “I had two helicopters and six engines and their crews at the scene. The fire has subsided a bit. We don’t known what caused it.”

Meanwhile, smoke from a bush fire along the Spine Road turn-off reduced visibility for drivers on the N2 on Sunday.

According to the weather service, Monday’s maximum temperature is expected to be 25ºC and Tuesday’s 26ºC. Wednesday’s forecast is a minimum of 21ºC and a maximum of 29ºC.

  • This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on February 07, 2005


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