‘Devastating’ wildfire brought under control

‘Devastating’ wildfire brought under control

27 January 2008

published by www.sundayindependent.co.za  

South Africa — The Scarborough fires that started on Friday night were under control by yesterday afternoon, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services said.

“We are still busy with the fire but it’s under control,” said Greg Pillay, the head of the disaster management centre in Cape Town.

“We are managing the fires. They have stopped spreading, but we are a bit concerned about the wind. We have 60 firefighters, and four helicopters fire-bombing.”

Pillay said six shacks had burned down in Oceanview and 70 people had possessions damaged. No injuries had been reported.

The fires started in Scarborough, along Plateau Road, near Cape Point Nature Reserve, and at Red Hill, in Simon’s Town.

Six houses were razed and five firemen were taken to hospital. Three were discharged on Friday night after being treated for smoke inhalation.

“Two firefighters who sustained burns are still in hospital,” Pillay said.

The defence force and national parks boards were assisting with aerial support to get the fires under control, said Pillay.

Roads in the southern suburbs were closed off and motorists were asked to exercise caution and not to venture into the affected areas.

Residents yesterday described the devastating fire that swept through the village of Scarborough as the most damaging in memory.

Assessing the damage to five homes gutted in the fire, Graham Noble, the chairman of the Scarborough Ratepayers’ Association, said the area had had big fires in the past, the biggest in January 2000, but none had been as damaging as the latest.

“In 2000, no homes were damaged,” said Noble. “This one was devastating. It came down the valley so fast, with a gale force wind behind it. Not even the firefighters could stop it.

“Within half an hour it was at the bottom of Hilltop Road, where most of the burnt homes are.

“There was smoke everywhere.”

Helicopters, the fire services, navy personnel, the National Sea Rescue Institute, disaster management and the Cape Medical Response team assisted residents as they battled to save their properties.

The heat was so intense that in one unburnt house a television exploded, filling the house with smoke and scattering broken glass.

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