South Africa — The latest raging fire, which covered False Bay with smoke on Sunday, was still burning in the mountains above Sir Lowry’s Pass on Monday morning.
The fire began near the outlying shacklands which neighbour the town of Grabouw in the Elgin Valley and spread quickly towards the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, fanned by powerful south- easterly winds.
Personnel from the Overberg fire services were joined by City of Cape Town firefighters late yesterday as the flames crested the watershed and began burning down through the historic Gantouw Pass gorge, where Voortrekker wagons cut tracks into the rock almost 200 years ago.
The fire then spread down towards the hamlet of Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, its outlying farms and the High Rising residential estate, but was halted before it could threaten homes or buildings.
Sir Lowry’s Pass itself was enveloped in clouds of smoke for much of Sunday, making the pass near-impassable and causing extensive traffic delays on the N2. Traffic was re-routed along the R44 via Rooi Els, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond.
By Monday morning, the fire on the Cape Town side of the mountains had been extinguished after water-bombing operations, but continued to burn on the Grabouw side, fuelled by continuing strong winds.
Nearby, the fire which began in the Jonkershoek valley a fortnight ago was finally extinguished on the Lourensford Estate farm outside Somerset West.
Hundreds of hectares of valuable pine plantations were destroyed, and the farm management is now battling to redeploy its seasonal labour force to return to the orchards in time to pick plum and pear crops.