Bush fires engulf Table Mountain in Cape Town

  Bush fires engulf Table Mountain in Cape Town

18 March 2009

published by www.telegraph.co.uk

South Africa — The fire was concentrated on Devil’s Peak, next to the famous flat-topped mountain itself, with four helicopters water-bombing the flames as they spread along the ridge.

Scores of residents living below the mountain were evacuated from their homes during the night, as the blaze swept through around 750 acres of hillside.

They were later allowed to return. Five firemen suffered minor injuries, and two homeless people were hospitalised with burns.

“We’ve got most of it contained,” said Philip Prins, the fire chief for the spectacular park, which stretches as far south as Cape Point. “Overall it’s not looking too bad.”

But he gave warning that if the wind strengthened the situation could worsen dramatically, and fire crews were expected to remain on the slopes for at least another 24 hours.

Volunteer wildfire fights have appealed for donations of fresh food and water as they continue their efforts.

Bush fires are a regular occurrence on and around Table Mountain, which is home to the unique fynbos vegetation, taken from the Afrikaan’s word meaning “fine bush”.

The seeds of many fynbos plants can only germinate only after the intense heat of a bush fire, which are common during the summer months.

The mountain is also occasionally set on fire by arsonists, although no suspicious circumstances have been reported in the current blaze.

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