File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Firefighters have had their hands full in the Overstrand region battling wildfires reignited by strong winds in the Franskraal and Hemel-en-Aarde Valley areas at the weekend.

At least 31 residential properties have been completely destroyed and 28 properties sustained partial to major damage in the Betty’s Bay, Karwyderskraal and Franskraal areas on Friday.

Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes and had not returned to them by yesterday.

A 71-year-old resident was seriously injured while evacuating his home and two firefighters were taken to a medical facility for the treatment of a sprained ankle and smoke inhalation.

More than 12 800 hectares of vegetation have also been burned.

By yesterday afternoon, the municipality said only the Betty’s Bay fire was contained and mop operations continued, while in Franskraal and Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, firefighters were still battling the blaze.

Eskom power lines were also damaged and most areas in Overstrand are without electricity. Eskom technicians and other officials were on scene trying to restore the power.

Water tanks were moving through the streets in Betty’s Bay and surrounding areas. The municipality said water tanks will further be stationed at Penguin Place and the Best Place in Town Pub & Grill in Betty’s Bay.

“The fire is spreading between the farms and is threatening homes and infrastructure. All residents are informed and their safety is the main concern. Aerial support has again been called and ground crews are battling to contain the flames.

“Although good progress is being made, the Hermanus fires are still very active. Fire is contained to the northern side of the mountain and currently there is no threat to residential areas,” said the municipality.

In Hemel-en-Aarde numerous fire teams, water bombers, choppers and resources were deployed. The local community and Rural Safety assisted with heavy vehicles and crews while in Franskraal, at Groeneweide, a fire-line jumped and spread rapidly and crossed the Baardskeerdersbos tar road.

The R43 Franskraal intersection at Uilkraalsmond and the R43, Franskraal towards Baardskeerdersbos, were closed due to the thick smoke affecting visibility.