Fires wreak havoc in W Cape

Fires wreak havoc in W Cape

6 February 2009

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South Africa — While many fires wreaked havoc across the Western Cape on Thursday, the blazes raging in the Southern Cape were mostly brought under control.

A veld fire that started up again at Kranshoek outside Plettenberg Bay, was stopped with the help of firebreaks.

Firefighters from the Plettenberg Bay Fire Department and a helicopter from Working with Fire were sent to fight the fire, said Gerhard Otto, head of Eden disaster management. Smoke could still be seen late on Thursday.

Firefighting teams were still busy with a veld fire near Harkerville on Thursday evening.

At Brandwag near Mossel Bay, a veld fire was put out completely, said a spokesperson at the Eden disaster centre in Oudtshoorn. Veld fires northeast of the Kaaiman’s Pass between Wilderness and George were completely under control, said Otto.

Fires still smouldered on Thursday and were monitored at all times. A helicopter from Working with Fire was on standby on Thursday morning. Smoke was still visible from the N2 and a few water trucks patrolled the area.

A veld fire nearly destroyed the luxurious Far Hills Country Hotel between George and Wilderness. Thirty people had to be brought to safety.

Firefighting teams battled throughout Wednesday night to safeguard the southern part of the Kaaiman’s Pass.

Fire in Cape Town

Cape Town was covered by smoke and residents of Zonnebloem (the former District Six) were watering their gardens after a veld fire jumped over De Waal Drive and raged towards the city.

Traffic jams started at 12:00 due to De Waal Drive being closed.

There were smaller fires on Paarden Island and on Vlaeberg.

Nine fires kept firefighters busy in the Overberg region.

A fire that started in Hermanus on Saturday, started up again on the southern slope of the Kleinrivier Mountains in the Maanskynkop Reserve on Wednesday.

The flames moved slowly into difficult terrain on Thursday. Due to the vertical cliffs, the rented Working with Fire helicopter, the Overberg municipality and the Overstrand district municipality were unable to release water. Firefighters could be brought to the area, however.

Shortly after 18:00, the flames at the foot of the cliffs moved into a stretch of fynbos, which could pose a problem, said Reinard Geldenhuys, the Overberg firefighting head.

A team of 16 firefighters was sent to the area, while another team of 17 members would spend the night on the mountain.

The other big fire in the Overberg on Thursday earlier in the day forced the evacuation of several homes in an informal development in Gansbaai.

Elsewhere, firefighters were also kept busy with several other blazes, with some expressing doubt about the fire in Stellenbosch being put out.

“It all depends on the wind,” said Leon Morta, firefighting head of the Stellenbosch municipality.

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