Raging fires keep firefighters busy

Raging fires keep firefighters busy

24 March 2008

published by www.iol.co.za

Cape Town, South Africa — Firefighters from the city and Table Mountain National Park on Sunday battled for nearly two hours to control a fire at Platboom above Cape Point. The fire was fanned by a strong south-easter.

According to Nimrod Luthuli, a dispatcher at Cape Town Fire Command and Control Centre, the fire had started at 3pm, destroying a large area of fynbos.

“Six fire engines along with six water tankers and a helicopter have been dispatched to the area. At the moment there is no threat to any buildings,” said Luthuli.

He said the strong south-easter which had been blowing at up to 80km/h had made it difficult for the helicopter firebombing the blaze.

Philip Prins, Table Mountain National Parks’s fire and technical services manager, said the fire had eventually been contained at 4.30pm.

“The fire has been contained but with the wind, anything can happen,” said Prins.

He said some of the firefighters who had battled the blaze would remain on the mountain during the night to secure the area and ensure there were no flare-ups.

Although there had been people hiking on the mountain in the vicinity of where the fire started, Prins said there had been no casualties among visitors and firefighters.

“There had been a lot of cars going past the area where the fire had started and at this point its difficult to say how the fire started,” said Prins.

Meanwhile at least 70 informal settlement residents spent their Easter salvaging what they could from the remains of their homes and belongings gutted by fires.

Hours after the blazes yesterday the city’s Disaster Risk Management Centre provided the residents with building materials and they began erecting their shelters again in temperatures which soared to 30?C.

Disaster risk management spokesperson Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the residents were also given food.

He said 15 homes in Sweet Home, Philippi, were gutted, leaving 50 residents homeless and in Freedom Farm, near Valhalla Park, another five homes were destroyed, leaving another 20 people without homes.

In another fire in Phola Park, Philippi, about 80 people were left homeless when a fire ravaged the informal settlement, destroying 20 shacks on Sunday afternoon.

No one was reported injured and the causes of the blazes were being investigated.

The Cape Town Fire Command and Control Centre said five fire engines had rushed to Philippi and three to Freedom Farm to extinguish the flames.

He said the wind had not been too strong.

Ntuli said firefighters also responded to a number of small veld fires throughout the weekend.

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