E Cape fires raging out of control

E Cape fires raging out ofcontrol

1 October 2005

published by iafrica.com

South Africa — A fire in the Humansdorp area of the Eastern Cape and threefires in the Tsitsikamma area are out of control, Working on Fire (WOF) said onMonday night.

“They are burning commercial timber and indigenous veld,” WOFspokesperson Val Charlton said at 7.30pm.

Charlton was worried that, with gale-force winds expected on Tuesday, theweather would fan the flames.

“Weather conditions are deteriorating,” she said. “Thisrepresents major challenges for the fire fighters. We expect things to get worsebefore they get better.”

Charlton said an expected cold front would bring respite to the Western Cape,where fires were raging on Table Mountain and near Villiersdorp.

But with another day before the front reached the Eastern Cape, the firesthere would probably continue unabated on Tuesday.

Although a WOF helicopter had to turn back because of technical problems, sixWOF crews of 20 people each and a WOF fire-truck were in the Humansdorp district.

Humansdorp fire-fighter Andre Smit said 9000 hectares of an 11 000 hapine forest and about 15 square kilometres of farmland had already been burntnear Thornhill between Port Elizabeth and Jeffrey’s Bay.

The fires had not been contained, added fire-fighting co-ordinator StanleyBaartman, who said they were moving over the mountains in an easterly directiontowards Uitenhage. “The priority now is the fight the front end of it,”he said.

Charlton said the fire on Table Mountain had been burning since Friday.

“It started in Hout Bay and has now gone up the back of the mountain.”

This fire was not “actually detrimental”. “Fynbos can do witha fire,” she said.

However, the fire had taken hold of some indigenous forest, which could takeyears to recover.

“The problem down here is the weather. It’s very windy and quitehot.”

Charlton said that although a fire had also been reported in Mpumalanga, nodetails were available.


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