Residents were evacuated around Tygerberg Hills and in Wolseley following two separate fires which firefighters were battling to get under control on Thursday.
The Cape Winelands District Municipality’s (CWDM’s) Fire Services reported that although the first part of the day went well and that good progress was made, a change in the wind direction had altered the situation greatly in Wolseley. At about 3:30pm on Thursday, the wind picked up speed, changed direction, and pushed the fire up against the mountain.
“The fire then moved over the ridge and down the mountain into the area of Verrekyker just above the Kluitjieskraal valley outside Wolseley. The area consists of agricultural land and contains a variety of structures, including formal and informal homes.
“Residents are currently being evacuated as a safety measure,” the CWDM said.
There is also considerable concern about a second fire line on the other side of the mountain that may spread in the direction of Bainskloof.
“Four helicopters have been deployed to support ground teams. This situation is currently very dangerous, and all resources are being employed to protect lives and property.
If the wind allows, aerial resources will remain active until the last light, while vehicles and crews on the ground will continue overnight.”
Firefighting efforts also continued in response to a vegetation fire on Tygerberg Hills on Thursday as residents of Kanonberg Estate and Oude Westhof were being evacuated.
City Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said the blaze was not yet under control.
“There are 20 firefighting resources on scene, including 4 x 4 vehicles, as the terrain is mostly gravel with steep gradients. Two choppers will continue to water bomb the area,” Carelse said.
He added that firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion, but no injuries were reported.
This comes as National Treasury has approved R114 million to be released from the Municipal Disaster Response Grant to the Western Cape for damages suffered during the September 2023 floods.
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said this was important and necessary funding to help the province deal with the significant impact of the floods.
“We appreciate this allocation, and I want to thank all the roleplayers who worked together to do damage assessments, drafted the disaster classification application, and worked together with our colleagues at the National Disaster Management Centre to satisfy all the regulatory requirements to qualify for this disaster relief,” Bredell said.
Bredell added that although the province applied for relief of more than R700 million, they appreciated the R114 million, and will now focus on spending the money wisely in the 5 municipalities identified for relief.
This includes 24 projects in Theewaterskloof; 16 projects in Overstrand; 11 projects in Stellenbosch; 13 projects in Langeberg and 6 projects in Cape Town.
Bredell noted the intense flooding of 2023, and the current wildfire season which is stretching fire services across the province to the limit, is a wake-up call for all levels of government.
“A new mindset is needed for infrastructure development and how we interact with nature. “We cannot repair roads and bridges to be washed away in the next flood. We must design and construct with the future in mind where we should anticipate more extreme weather events,” Bredell said.