Overstrand Municipality, Overberg District Municipality, Volunteer Wildfire Services, NCC Wildfires, Working on Fire, Overberg Wildfire Volunteers, City of Cape Town and CapeNature joined forces to combat the blazing fire. Picture: Working on FIre
Overstrand Municipality, Overberg District Municipality, Volunteer Wildfire Services, NCC Wildfires, Working on Fire, Overberg Wildfire Volunteers, City of Cape Town and CapeNature joined forces to combat the blazing fire. Picture: Working on FIre

Fire season in full force as Highlands fire rages on with strong winds

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Jan 10, 2022

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Cape Town - Fire season showed its force with a raging fire that started in the Highlands early on Saturday morning and spread towards Kleinmond on Sunday, where structural protection and aerial resources were deployed with urgency to help extinguish the flames.

Overstrand Municipality, Overberg District Municipality, Volunteer Wildfire Services, NCC Wildfires, Working on Fire, Overberg Wildfire Volunteers, the City of Cape Town and CapeNature all joined forces to combat the blaze that began at 4am on Saturday morning in the mountainous area of the Highlands in Overstrand.

The teams worked throughout Saturday night and Sunday to quell the flames, but it raged on and was still burning as firefighters and volunteers continued to battle this morning.

Late last night Overstrand Municipality closed the R44 between Heuningkloof and the intersection before Arabella on the R43 due to heavy smoke as the fire spread to the roadway.

"It is the battle for the R44 this morning. It is currently burning down from the mountain in the direction of Arabella. All efforts are being made to reopen the R44 for traffic," said the Overberg municipality.

At 9am this morning Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association (FPA) said the fire was still not contained and gave a summary of the damage so far.

“One structure was destroyed by the fire on Day 2 (yesterday), the house was not inhabited and was in an inaccessible area. An estimated 3700 ha of area was burnt with Fynbos and Pine slash,” said the association.

Greater Overberg FPA said the fire was partly contained with fire suppression continuing and arial resources ready to assist if need be as they strived to protect the homes and infrastructure in Heuningklip- there was no current threat to town or farmlands.

“Currently we are protecting the R44 from the fire jumping the road. The objective for today is to close the fire to Arabella and around to the Highlands road to connect with already burned out lines,” said the association.

Overstrand Mayor Annelie Rabie said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

“We were very worried last night (Saturday) around 11pm, our fire chief declared a code red - which meant that he, with the support of the Western Cape Government, could engage other municipalities.

“The City of Cape Town immediately reacted and by 1:30 am we had extra fire engines on the scene. The fires were very close to properties in the residential area of Kleinmond, we evacuated five families and 16 people for the night but they were back at home today,” said Rabie.

Overstrand Municipality, Overberg District Municipality, Volunteer Wildfire Services, NCC Wildfires, Working on Fire, Overberg Wildfire Volunteers, City of Cape Town and CapeNature joined forces to combat the blazing fire. Picture: Winelands Fire Protection Association/FACEBOOK
Overstrand Municipality, Overberg District Municipality, Volunteer Wildfire Services, NCC Wildfires, Working on Fire, Overberg Wildfire Volunteers, City of Cape Town and CapeNature joined forces to combat the blazing fire. Picture: Working on FIre

Working on Fire provincial communications officer Limakatso Khalianyane said, “We have six teams currently dispatched in various parts of this fire as it continues to rage in different mountainous parts.

“They have been strategically placed in areas that were deemed as serious. It's becoming a little bit of a challenge when it comes to the strong winds that keep emerging.”

Khalianyane said a chopper that dropped two loads of water yesterday could not return because of extreme winds.

Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning MEC Anton Bredell detailed the province’s fire prevention preparations at a briefing by the Provincial Disaster Management Centre.

“As we are in the midst of the fire season, December to April, our Disaster Management team is ready to respond with speed to any wildfires which may occur.

“We take this very seriously, and it is reflected in our spending of over R125 million since 2011 to combat fires in the province,” he said.

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Cape Argus

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