Cape fire threat to Tokai forest

By Kieran Legg, Junior Bester And Sapa Time of article published Mar 3, 2015

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Cape Town - Firefighters have been battling the blaze around the clock, working exhausting 30-hour shifts and suffering in the heat.

But on Tuesday morning, Cape Town woke up to find three fires still burning in the mountains in the South Peninsula, threatening to continue the path of destruction that has turned parts of the area into an ashen wasteland.

Working on Fire incident commander Philip Prins said on Tuesday morning that they were most concerned about a fire dancing towards Tokai forest. By 10am a nearby plantation had already gone up in smoke and firefighters were forming a defensive line to drive the flames back.

In Hout Bay, fires in the mountains were still proving tricky to deal with. Largely inaccessible to vehicles, the flames were slowly being doused by city helicopters coming from Silvermine.

Prins said a fire burning near the Clovelly Country Club may start moving towards the golf course.

“At the moment there is no property in danger.”

City Fire Services spokesman confirmed that the fire had been contained in these three sectors.

The spokesman said most of the flames were high up on the mountain slopes and ground crews were dealing with sporadic flare-ups.

There has however been no damage to any other properties after five homes in Noordhoek were destroyed. The neighbourhood was encircled by flames on Monday.

Prins said firefighters were exhausted. However, 250 firefighters were arriving from across the country, predominantly the Eastern Cape, to help contain the fires.

The commander said some of the first new teams were already on the ground, either relieving volunteers who had been working for 40 hours or bolstering the ranks on the front line.

Donations are still pouring in at Pick n Pay stores in the province. The supermarket giant has already provided crates of energy drinks, sandwiches, water, chocolate and fruit to the firefighters, said general manager Jarett van Vuuren.

“We’ve also donated thousands of rands worth of sunscreen, eye drops, and lip balm to assist those firemen and fire volunteers who have been fighting the fire.

“For those who want to donate goods we have trolleys in all our stores in the Western Cape and we are working with the City’s Disaster Management team to make sure that relief gets to the right place and the right people.”

 

The Hout Bay Civic Association on Tuesday thanked the firefighters who have been working around the clock for their courage and bravery.

“Firefighters have been on watch in our community and on the fire belt since this morning when the fire changed its direction,” the association said in a statement.

“We are humbled by the dedication shown by these brave men and women and welcome reports of rain on Wednesday to assist these fighters in win this battle against this fierce fire.”

 

The fire started on Sunday but was contained and started again just after 2am on Monday in Muizenberg above Boyes Drive and was fanned by strong winds.

It spread to Ou Kaapse Weg, Chapman's Peak, Hout Bay and Tokai.

One city firefighter had been admitted to hospital after sustaining burn wounds while 52 frail-care residents from the Noordhoek retirement village were treated for smoke inhalation.

Five homes had been destroyed along Silvermine in Noordhoek.

There was also some damage to parts of Tintswalo Lodge at the foot of Chapman's Peak.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said about 30 houses were evacuated in Noordhoek.

Residents of the San Michelle Old-Age Home and the Noordhoek Manor Retirement Village were also evacuated but have since been able to return home.

 

Cape Argus and Sapa

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