The Western Cape has been struck by a number of fires since the start of the official fire season last month. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency
The Western Cape has been struck by a number of fires since the start of the official fire season last month. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency

Western Cape feeling the heat after province hit by wildfires

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Jan 6, 2020

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Cape Town - The Western Cape has been struck by a number of fires since the start of the official fire season last month.

According to Working on Fire (WoF), it's estimated that 20807 hectares of land were burnt in the Western Cape in December of which 19000ha were reportedly in the Southern Cape.

During December, WoF had to dispatch ground teams 107 times to support partners such as local municipalities, fire protection associations and large landowners, fighting 25 fires.

The Southern Cape was the busiest area and accounted for 15 of the 25 fires and 83 of the dispatchings.

In many of these fires, aerial support had to be called in to douse flames and offer support to the ground teams ultimately responsible for putting out the fires. The total number of hours flown by the aerial support this season is 224.64. Most of those hours (164 hours) were flown during operations in the Southern Cape. Major fires in which WoF resources were used were in Greyton, Schoemanshoek, Nuweberg, Gouritsmond and Flower Valley.

General manager Melany Duthie-Surtie said the unpredictable weather caused heavy winds and high temperatures.

“Areas that have burned are areas we've identified as hot spots and that had not burned in the previous fire season. The communities should play a role in reporting fires to the closest local fire stations.

“We have a collaboration with fire stations, fire protection associations, and conservation agencies, we work together in battling these blazes.

“We continue with fire awareness activities ensuring local people and visitors in the Western Cape are aware of dangers of fire and know to who they should report the fires,” she said.

Last month the provincial government said it had 21 aircraft on standby to tackle wildfires across the province in coming months. These include nine water-bombing helicopters, four water- bombing aircraft and eight spotter command and control aircraft that can be deployed using 36 runways prepared across the Western Cape.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, said: “Every year the fire season seems to be getting worse. Conditions are still hazardous.”

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus

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