Fire razes 60 shacks

Fire razes 60 shacks

21 January 2008

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South Africa — A spate of fires – stoked by soaring temperatures and fanned by strong winds – saw firefighters doing battle in informal settlements, on mountains and in the veld at the weekend.

The SA Weather Service warned that conditions in the Cape Town metropole and Boland were “favourable for the development of runaway fires”. The temperature on Monday is expected to climb to 33°C, while the wind is to be “fresh southerly”.

In one of the “more destructive fires” on Sunday, at least 60 shacks were razed in Site C, Khayelitsha, leaving 300 people homeless.

Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management spokesperson, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, said no one had been injured in the blaze.

He said the people who lost their homes had been given blankets, food, clothing and building materials.

“Although the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, we appeal to residents, especially those in informal settlements, to be careful when working with open flames or using candles,” he said.

At Red Hill, near Simon’s Town, a “huge mountain fire” that had been raging for two days was extinguished early on Sunday.

Two Working on Fire helicopters and one from the SA Defence Force had “worked nearly throughout since Friday” to bring the blaze under control, Solomons-Johannes said.

“The fire was in an area inaccessible to our ground crews. Quite a vast area has been burnt,” he said.

At least 100 voluntary firefighters had also been working to quell the blaze.

Solomons-Johannes said gale-force winds of up to 65km/h had been recorded in False Bay and Table Bay at the weekend, but no reports of wind damage had been received.

The Cape Town Fire Command and Control Centre said that in about 10 hours it had gone out to extinguish at least 20 small veld and grass fires.

In Betty’s Bay, firefighters remained on high alert following a huge runaway blaze a week ago. Overstrand Municipality’s chief fire officer, Riaan Jacobs, said the fire had flared up again, but was quickly put out.

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