A total of of 837 wildfires have been reported to the provincial disaster management centre, with 10 376 hectares of land burned since December last year.
“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,” said Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell.
He added that the department had approved an additional R3 million in funding for their wildfire budget, up from R16 million to R19 million.
Meanwhile, the South African National Parks (SANParks) on Wednesday said the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) had been tracking veld fires within the park for a number of years to determine general trends, “hot spot” areas, and to assist in developing firefighting strategies and response plans.
“To obtain a meaningful understanding, many of the veldfires are investigated to determine the actual cause as opposed to the making of assumptions. This is especially of importance in the rare occasions when damage to property occurs.”
SANParks shared a case that occurred on January 11, 2024 when a report was received of a person who had started two malicious fires in the Higgovale area.
“TMNP and the City Fire and Rescue Services firefighting resources responded quickly and were able to extinguish the fire before it had the chance to spread. An investigation was conducted due to the nature of the alleged circumstances. It was determined, after studying valuable video footage provided by a resident of the fire in its early stages, where a person was observed at the fire scene, that it was in fact a negligently caused fire when a... camping fire caused burning embers to land in not one, but two adjoining places a short distance downwind of the cooking fire.
“While the first spot fire was small and hardly visible, the second spot fire occurred in a pile of dead vegetation, causing a large fire,” SANParks said.
Working on Fire (WoF) added that following the fire that swept through Simon’s Town last month, which took almost a week to quell, they were taking steps to empower communities with basic fire safety skills.
“The WoF Newlands Team visited the Red Hill community to conduct a door-to-door fire awareness presentation. During this initiative, community members were educated on effective measures to protect themselves and their properties from runaway fires.
The primary goal of the presentations is to instil a sense of ownership and responsibility for safety, especially in the face of veld fires,” said WoF.