Trees burn in Tokai forest. Photo: Nic Bothma
Trees burn in Tokai forest. Photo: Nic Bothma

Firefighters fear the south-easter

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Mar 5, 2015

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Cape Town - The South Peninsula fire, which enters its fifth day on Thursday, is still burning on two main fronts, and there are fears that a rising south-easter could fan the flames in Clovelly and Tokai.

On Wednesday it was announced that the fire had burned across 5 500 hectares of land, mainly in the mountains, and in the past 24 hours destroyed three houses in the Zwaanswyk area of Tokai. A number of other houses, including that belonging to Wynberg Boys High School principal Keith Richardson in Noordhoek, were seriously damaged.

In addition, the luxury Tintswalo Atlantic Lodge below Chapman’s Peak Drive was partly destroyed.

But apart from one fireman admitted to hospital with burns, and a number of people treated for smoke inhalation, there have been no casualties.

On Wednesday night city Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Liezl Moodie said firefighters were focusing on Tokai and Clovelly, while Anton Bredell, MEC for Local Government and Environmental Affairs, said: “The situation is still serious, particularly in areas around Constantia Nek. Our teams are being kept very busy and doing a great job under extreme conditions.

That being said, the cooler weather today has helped in bringing many areas under control.”

Moodie said firemen were keeping an eye on hot spots in case of flare-ups.

“For now we are focusing on Tokai and Clovelly as well as properties adjacent to those areas.”

Over 200 city firefighters have been deployed, assisted by Working on Fire volunteers, SANParks firefighters and Wild Land Fire Services.

Moodie said 300 Noordhoek residents and 50 Zwaanswyk residents were evacuated from their homes on Tuesday, but many had returned to their homes.

The fire broke out in Peck’s Valley above Boyes Drive in Muizenberg on Sunday, and fanned by a howling south-easter, spread across the mountains above Lakeside to Silvermine and Noordhoek. Chapman’s Peak Drive is closed, and Ou Kaapseweg and Boyes Drive have been closed intermittently.

On Wednesday a number of roads in the Tokai and Constantia area were closed.

Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said he was pleased with Wednesday’s rainy weather. “The weather conditions have brought welcome relief and, according to the Joint Operations Centre, the fire has been contained. That is certainly good news for all concerned, but the job isn’t over just yet.”

He commended the firefighting crews and the different agencies on the work they had done.

“I want to commend the fire crews and various agencies who have been working so tirelessly over the past few days. I also want to thank the people for their generosity in providing donations to the firefighters.”

Cape Argus

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