Call for disaster to be declared as fires rage on in province

Firefighters battle a wildfire in Pringle Bay on Tuesday. Picture: Armand Hough/ANA

Firefighters battle a wildfire in Pringle Bay on Tuesday. Picture: Armand Hough/ANA

Published Feb 2, 2024


Cape Town - As wildfires continued to rage through parts of the Overstrand and Cape Winelands Municipality yesterday, destroying thousands of hectares of vegetation, the Western Cape government approached the National Disaster Management Centre for Disaster Classification.

“A provincial disaster classification will empower the premier and the minister of finance to move funding as and when we need it to sustain our firefighting efforts,” said local government MEC, Anton Bredell.

According to Bredell, the hot and windy weather conditions, combined with several wildfires burning in the Cape Winelands and Overstrand districts, necessitated a large and co-ordinated firefighting effort.

“We have the necessary resources available to address the wildfires, but the disaster declaration will give us the ability to co-ordinate optimally. We are doing everything to protect lives and property,” he said.

Since Monday, fires have engulfed Hangklip between Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay, which destroyed several homes and forced evacuations.

Overstrand municipal manager, Dean O’Neill, reported yesterday that the fire in Hangklip had flared up again.

“The municipality is responding with aerial resources in addition to the ground teams. Residents are requested to remain vigilant, and an evacuation order has been issued to residents on Caesar Road and surrounding areas.”

On the other side of the province, the Cape Winelands District Municipality’s (CWDM) Fire Services and teams spent an anxious night monitoring and battling multiple fires in Rawsonville, Worcester and Wolseley.

Massive flames have been burning throughout the area for nine days.

CWDM spokesperson, Jo-Anne Otto, said over 30 000 hectares of land had already been destroyed.

“Kluitjieskraal and Wolseley, 27 200 ha, were burned. The Brandvlei fire, which is ongoing, has so far been 3 700ha, and then the Fairy Glen fire is 2 200,” Otto confirmed.

The South African Weather Service yesterday also cautioned that extremely high fire danger conditions were expected over the West Coast and Cape Winelands today.

Otto said: “The hot weather impacts our ability to fight the fire, it’s hot and there are real dangers of dehydration and heat exhaustion.”

Mop-up operations were expected to continue in several areas around Elandsberg and Ferry Glen today.