Fires believed to have been started with malicious intent have sparked cause for concern at the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).
The SANParks TMNP team confirmed that three major fires attended to over the past few weeks were started in suspected arson attempts.
While no criminal cases have been lodged with police, Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said that the alleged arson and sabotage attacks were “devious attempts to disrupt vital aspects of service delivery”.
SANParks spokesperson Lauren Clayton said: “A concerning pattern has emerged with the majority of recent fires occurring in the southern section of the TMNP, namely in the Kalk Bay, Oceanview and Redhill areas, as well as in the north of the park, in the Signal Hill and Pipe Track areas.
“Fires in these areas can pose a significant risk to communities living adjacent to the park, particularly with the hot temperatures and strong wind.”
“A concerning trend in the cause of these fires has surfaced, with the majority attributed to deliberate malicious intent. Following investigations into the fires by Environmental Wildfire Services, it is suspected that the three major fires were started with malicious intent,” said Clayton.
Regarding the Kalk Bay fire on January 17, Clayton said: “The fire above Boyes Drive in Kalk Bay ... burnt approximately 73 hectares of veld, and was contained at 9.45pm with the collaborative efforts of over 115 firefighters, management staff, three Huey helicopters, an AT 802 air tractor bomber, and a spotter plane.”
Meanwhile, preliminary reports suggest that the veld fire which erupted in Ocean View the next day “suggested the use of dry cut alien vegetation, potentially ignited with a cigarette lighter”.
According to Smith, while fire crews battled a fire at Gordon’s Bay, they were dispatched to two Simon’s Town fires at the weekend.
“Crews responding to the fire line became suspicious of a vehicle hurriedly leaving the area upon the arrival of the first fire engine,” said Smith.
With the fire dangerously close to the water treatment works of the Kleinplaas reservoir, teams battled throughout the night, and additional aerial support was requested at first light,” said Smith.
He said the City had identified a startling abnormality.
A total of 282 instances of vegetation, grass or rubbish had been set alight across the municipality, “and while some may be attributed to negligence, such as the result of burning copper cabling, etc, many of these ignition points are far off the beaten track,” said Smith.
The public has been urged not to start fires even in designated areas when wind conditions are very strong, due to the risk of fires spreading.
Fires and illegal activity in TMNP can be reported to authorities via 086 110 021 or the Newlands Fire Base on 021 689 7438.