Battling the blaze: 200+ firefighters battling wildfires in Simon’s Town and Cape Winelands

Firefighters are hard at work, to try and tame the ongoing blaze in the Simon’s Town area.

Firefighters are hard at work, to try and tame the ongoing blaze in the Simon’s Town area.

Published Dec 20, 2023


More than 200 firefighters are still on the ground in Simon’s Town, along with a fleet of City firefighting equipment including 20 pumps, four water tankers and four skids, to stop the raging wildfire in Simon’s Town, which has been burning since Tuesday morning.

Since the beginning of December, the City said its Fire Service has responded to more than 2 500 incidents, including fires and special service calls like motor vehicle accidents and trauma cases. Of these, 60% (1 500) have been vegetation fires.

In Simon’s Town, mayoral committee member for safety and Security, JP Smith, said: “Currently, firefighting efforts continue in Simon’s Town, involving City staff but also numerous other agencies. Staff fought throughout the night to protect homes and other structures, while some precautionary evacuations took place in the vicinity of Barnard and Victory Street. The Table Mountain National Park has five tankers and one skid on site, along with various ground teams.”

He said the fire was not yet contained, but the situation was more manageable, and five aerial support craft returned early on Wednesday morning to assist with water-bombing efforts.

Efforts continue to stop the fire in Simon’s Town.

Western Cape MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, added that firefighting efforts were currently focused on the flank moving from Castle Rock towards Simon’s Town.

“The Provincial Disaster Management Centre is availing provincial aerial resources to the Simon’s Town fire. Currently there are four Huey helicopters and a spotter plane, as well as an Oryx helicopter from the SANDF, deployed.

“Staff from Working on Fire, Volunteer Wildfire Services, NCC Environmental Services, the City of Cape Town and SANParks have through last night worked tirelessly to protect people and property until they could be supported with aerial water-bombing again since daybreak today,” Bredell said.

Also, while Simon’s Town was being addressed, according to Bredell several wildfires in the Cape Winelands District Municipality (CWDM) also needed attending. Firefighters from CWDM Fire Services, CapeNature, Winelands Fire Protection Association, NCC Environmental Services and aerial resources from Leading Edge have been engaged in active firefighting on several fronts:

  • A fire is burning through dense and inaccessible vegetation along the Berg River in the vicinity of the Berg River Dam outside Franschhoek. Efforts are focused on preventing the spread to farms and nearby infrastructure.
  • A fire in Du Toit’s Kloof near Paarl is currently mostly contained, with ground crews attending to isolated hot spots, monitoring for flare-ups, and doing general mopping-up work.

The Western Cape government, he said, had budgeted R16 million for the current wildfire season.

According to Bredell, fires due to natural causes, such as lightning strikes or rockfalls, account for less than 3% of all wildfires. The other 97% is caused either intentionally, 25%, or through negligence, 72%.

“These statistics show the huge role ordinary citizens can play to protect not only our natural environment, but also our personal safety and infrastructure, from runaway wildfires,” he said.

Bredell urged the public to report any sighting of a fire as quickly as possible to the closest authorities.

“Experience over many years has taught us that the faster the initial response, the better our chances are of successfully controlling a fire before it spirals out of control,” he said.

The following numbers can be contacted to report any fire sightings:

City of Cape Town: 107 or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone

Overberg: 028 425 1690

West Coast: 022 433 8700

Garden Route: 044 805 5071

Central Karoo: 023 414 2603

Cape Winelands: 021 887 4446

Cape Times