Cape Town – A 34-year-old man has been arrested following a devastating blaze that tore through the Overstrand area.
The suspect was a local resident of the Mooiuitsig community near Betty's Bay, according to police. Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Sharon Bosch had said a R5 000 reward was offered for any information that could lead to the arrest of a suspect who discharged a flare in the Kogelbay Nature Reserve during the early hours of New Year's day.
The community reported that shortly after midnight a flare, or possibly two, were noted.
The 34-year-old man was arrested for contravention of the Nature Conservation Act, a charge more serious than arson, News24 reported. He will appear in court on Monday.
"We arrested the suspect for the fires. We've got witnesses also. We locked the suspect at Kleinmond police station," Captain Harold Nqwenani said.
A 59-year-old woman who stayed in Elizabeth Road, Pringle Bay, died in the blaze, police said, but the cause of death has not yet been determined. Three people were also injured in the fire, two seriously.
“Cause of the fatality is currently unknown, SAPS and forensic services are investigating. We request the public to keep the communities of Betty’s Bay, Pringle Bay, Hangklip and surrounding rural area in their thoughts, it was a traumatic night full of uncertainty,” Bosch said.
The blaze had engulfed the area surrounding the R44. It was brought under control, but families were forced to evacuate their homes near Betty’s Bay, Pringle Bay, Rooi Els and Hangklip on Thursday morning after strong winds set the area ablaze again.
Bosch said a limited number of structures were affected by the fire and an assessment is under way.
Yesterday, numerous resources were deployed, including a Working on Fire chopper, a spotter plane and a South African Air Force Oryx helicopter.
“Warnings and evacuations were done throughout the early hours of (yesterday) morning while firefighters braved high mountains and waves of fire.
"This was anticipated. However, the wind conditions were so adverse that avoiding the worst-case scenarios were not preventable,” Bosch said.
Chairperson of the standing committee on local government Masizole Mnqasela told the Cape Argus donations such as canned foodstuffs, sweets and medical supplies like earbuds and eyedrops are still needed for firefighters on scene. It can be dropped off at the Crassula Hall in Betty's Bay.
The Community Policing Forum of Hermanus will be accepting donations 24 hours a day at the Hermanus Fire and Rescue and Disaster Management offices in 14 Mussel Road, Hermanus Industrial Area.
Alternatively, drop-offs are at the Gansbaai Fire & Rescue offices or Kleinmond Fire & Rescue offices between 08:00 and 16:00.
Donations can also be made to The Overstrand Municipality Executive Mayor’s Special Fund while they assist the Betty’s Bay, Hangklip, Pringle Bay and Rooiels areas
ACCOUNT HOLDER: Overstrand Municipality
ACCOUNT TYPE: Current Account
BANK: ABSA Bank
BRANCH CODE: 334-812
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 3220 000 035
PAYMENT REFERENCE: Mayoral Fund-B/Bay Fire followed by either the words (**reward**) or (**support**).