Bay under fire as strong winds fan 13 blazes across city, closing expressway

Bay under fire as strong winds fan 13 blazes across city, closing expressway

23 January 2009

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South Africa — Thirteen veld fires raged through Port Elizabeth yesterday as strong winds whipped the city.

Fire authorities contributed the sudden increase in fires to warm weather, dry bush and most of all the strong winds.

The worst of the fires was yesterday morning when firefighters struggled for more than three hours to put out a blaze that led to the William Moffett Expressway being cordoned off because of the thick smoke.

Other veld fires were reported near Durban Road in Korsten as well as in suburbs including Gelvandale, Elands River and Seaview.

Last year in January 116 veld fires were reported to the Port Elizabeth fire control room and authorities have had 122 reports so far this month.

The Eastern Cape manager for Working on Fire, Anthony Kasinga, said this year had seen a “definite decrease in fires compared with last year” in the province.

The Eastern Cape‘s main veld fire season is from June to September.

“It is very difficult to predict how many fires could spark up in the near future. However, it is weather-dependent,” he said. “Factors such as wind and warm weather play a large role.”

Kasinga said at the moment the area between Port Elizabeth and Storms River was being closely monitored and was of concern.

“These are the only places I see there are to worry about at the moment,” he said.

“Should a large fire start, however, we will join forces with the provincial disaster management and other role players to ensure it gets the attention needed.”

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