There are currently around 20 private landowner vehicles assisting with fire control. A number of farmers and their staff have, due to the thick smoke and as a health precaution, evacuated their homes. Photo: Cape Winelands District Municipality

Cape Town – The veld fire in the Franschhoek mountains which has been burning since Monday is threatening to encroach on the borders of the town. 

Being fanned by a south-easterly wind, more than 5 000 hectares of vegetation have already been destroyed. 

DA premier candidate in the Western Cape, Alan Winde, has requested the provincial police commissioner to investigate the cause of the veld fire in the Franschhoek Valley. This follows his visit to the area yesterday.

There are currently around 20 private landowner vehicles assisting with fire control. A number of farmers and their staff have, due to the thick smoke and as a health precaution, evacuated their homes, the Cape Winelands District Municipality (CWDM) said in a statement.

The CWDM Fire Services, together with partners, CapeNature and Winelands Fire Protection Association, said 169 firefighters and 23 firefighting vehicles are attending to the fire, supported by three helicopters, which will start water bombing as soon as the wind conditions allow.

"Fresh ground crews have hiked, approximately 2km fully kitted, (equipment, food and at least 4l of water per person) up to the fire line above Mont Rochelle, where they will stay for the next 24 hours or until they have managed to bring the fireline under control," the CWDM said.

CWDM spokesperson Jo-Anne Otto told the SABC to prevent the fire from reaching the town, the municipality's fire services will undertake a special operation to backburn from the Franschhoek pass towards the oncoming fire.

"The pass will serve as a firebreak, while helicopters and other vehicles will create a wetline to prevent the backburn from burning out of control. The Franschhoek pass will be closed until further notice. 

"This is a recognised tactic to manage fires and was successfully implemented in 2010 when a fire with similar conditions burnt in the area. 

"The fire has already destroyed 5 472 hectares of veld during its 96 firefighting hours. The total number of staff remains at 169, with support of a variety of 25 fire brigade vehicles."

Cape Times