Cape Town - City law enforcement officers were called out to Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay on Tuesday night after residents reported arsonists were trying to spark new fires using a flare gun. But the city’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said police officers and members of the K9 unit found no sign of the alleged fire-starters.
Residents are on high alert after wildfires ravaged the Southern Peninsula last week burning over 6 900 hectares of vegetation and gutting homes. As investigators look into what began the inferno, which cost the city over R11 million, another blaze is threatening to scorch the Stellenbosch area.
Table Mountain National Park has hired Rob Erasmus, an investigator from Enviro Wildfire Services, to get to the bottom of the causes of the fires. Earlier in the week he said there had been different ignition points and “a scientific technique” would be used to trace the fire back from various points.
The City of Cape Town has also appointed forensics expert David Klatzow to look into the blazes.
CapeNature spokesman Justin Lawrence said on Wednesday morning that a fire which began in the mountains of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve had flared up again and was heading towards farms on the fringe of the wine lands.
The fire began at around 2pm on Monday and firefighters have been working round the clock to prevent it from spreading in the nearby Helderberg Basin.
By on Wednesday morning, it was estimated that the flames had burnt down over 1 000ha of vegetation, the equivalent of around 2 000 soccer pitches. Four firefighters have been injured while battling the fire.
“It is understood the firefighters sustained soft tissue injuries when they tried to escape the overwhelming fire,” said ER24 spokeswoman Chitra Bodasing.
Lawrence said he did not know what condition the firefighters were in on Wednesday morning. However, there are now 200 firemen and volunteers on the ground in the reserve.
Flames are now threatening farms in Stellenbosch.
There were reports last night that homes near the nature reserve were evacuated, and Lawrence warned farms may have to be evacuated too if the fire spreads quickly on Wednesday.
“We are going to be doing a controlled burn to protect them, which will hopefully stop the flames from spreading into the farm areas,” he said. A helicopter was on standby on Wednesday morning.
On Saturday, representatives from Disaster Management crews will be honoured at Newlands Rugby Stadium for their firefighting efforts throughout last week.
DA Premier Helen Zille’s spokesman Michael Mpofu said they would be honoured just before the kick-off of the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Chiefs.
Cape Argus and Sapa