The mountain fire in the Overstrand area which the City's Fire and Rescue services have been battling is still ongoing. Picture: City and Fire Services/Supplied
Cape Town - Officials are keeping a close eye on the fire which spread from Betty’s Bay forcing the evacuation of holidaymakers at Kogel Bay Resort. 

Residents in the Helderberg area will also be seeing smoke emitting over the upper slopes of the mountain in the Sir Lowry's pass area, as officials are conducting a controlled fire.

The controlled burn which was scheduled for the 3rd January, but due to the ongoing firefighting efforts in getting the Betty's Bay/Pringle Bay fire under control, it was postponed until Tuesday, 8 January.

"The expectation is that there will be smoke coming across the mountains of the Helderberg area, from that controlled burn," said City and Fire Rescue services spokesperson, Theo Layne.

"All services will be on scene from 09:00 till 16:00."

On Monday, the City’s fire and rescue services conducted an assessment of the affected areas.

“What we can confirm is that the fire is still burning along the R44 and it was still burning strongly above the resort,” said Richard Bosman, executive director at the City of Cape Town for safety and security.

On Sunday, the City said that the Kogel Bay resort was being evacuated to ensure the safety of campers at the site.

The fire was descending from above Blousteen Peak, and guests at the nearby holiday resort were told to leave.

Firefighters and aerial support units were attempting to contain the damage.

“In terms of damage what we can say is that the entire picnic area has been burnt out, the infrastructure at the park is completely destroyed. Our staff will remain on site,” Bosman said.

A man believed to be responsible for the massive fire in the Overberg district which has been raging for days made a brief appearance in the Caledon Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Shelton April, 34, appeared in court and was formally charged with contravening the National Environmental Management Act.

The case was postponed to April 14 for the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide on a bail application and for a complete charge sheet to be set. April’s girlfriend and sister attended court.

It was still unclear whether April would face a charge of murder after the fire resulted in the death of a 59-year-old mother.

Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said Clarence Drive on the R44, between Rooi Els and Gordon’s Bay, remained closed.

It was understood that a flare was set off in Betty’s Bay on New Year’s Day leading to a fire in the mountains.

The City’s fire and rescue spokesperson Theo Layne said firefighters were having a challenge accessing the area. “The area is difficult to access as the other side is burning on the upper slopes of the mountain,” he said.

According to the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association, the fire was 60% contained.

Betty’s Bay Ratepayers Association said they were grateful for the aid and support they were receiving. Donations were requested for head lamp batteries (AAA), battery pack and airtime (R30 each). Urgent donations can be dropped off at Crassula Hall in Betty’s Bay, and the Hermanus Community Policing Forum will accept donations on a 24-hour basis at the Hermanus Fire and Rescue and Disaster Management offices at 14 Mussel Road.

Donations may also be made to the Overstrand municipality mayor’s special fund:

Account holder: Overstrand municipality

Account type: Current Account

Bank: Absa

Branch: Hermanus

Branch code: 334-812

Account number: 3220000035

Payment reference: Mayoral fund B/Bay fire followed by either the words (*reward) or (support*).


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Cape Argus