Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

It could take more than a week to extinguish Table Mountain fires

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Apr 20, 2021

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Cape Town – It’s going to take more than a week to extinguish the fires raging in Cape Town, says Table Mountain National Parks fire manager, Philip Prins.

With the wind having died down, it will make firefighting efforts easier, the City Fire and Rescue Service said in a statement on Tuesday morning. Multiple SANDF Oryx helicopters, which were unable to be deployed yesterday due to fierce winds, were helping to contain the fire this morning with water bombs in a smoke-filled City Bowl.

’’Three days since the start of the devastating Rhodes Memorial blaze, the fire has been largely contained, with firefighting efforts now focused on Deer Park and the Disa Park towers in Vredehoek,’’ the Fire and Rescue Service said.

’’Crews have worked tirelessly and the wind having died down considerably, has given them some respite. Fresh crews and seasonal firefighters will be deployed to those hot spot areas at 9am today.’’

Prins said yesterday: ’’This fire is not going to take one or two days, its going to take much longer. Hopefully, we can get containment very soon but to extinguish the fire, to put it out completely, that's going to take more than a week.

’’So we will have resources available every day at the scene and just hope for the wind to die down. Fighting a fire, the wind is our biggest enemy at this stage.

’’Hopefully the wind is going to down a bit later tonight and tomorrow, and for the rest of the week and we will be able to dispatch the aerial resources. Hopefully we can make some good progress from tomorrow.’’

Thousands of people have had to flee their homes. Aside from several buildings at UCT being damaged, including the Jagger Library, a government minister’s Newlands home was also gutted.

The blaze also damaged part of the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and the historic Mostert Mill along the M3. Five firefighters were injured.

The City of Cape Town has urged City Bowl residents who have been evacuated not to return to their homes yet.

Visitors are advised to avoid Newlands Forest, Groote Schuur Estate, Rhodes Memorial, Devils Peak, Tafelberg Road, Vredehoek and the Deer Park sections of the park. All recreation areas below and above Tafelberg Road remain closed until further notice.

Road closures were still in place on Tuesday morning, with more than 150 firefighters and volunteers, and over 30 firefighting appliances remaining on the ground to monitor flare-ups, with the fire spreading higher up on the mountain. Flames above Newlands Forest, near Maclear’s Beacon, were visible from Constantia this morning.

The M3 inbound and outbound are closed between Hospital Bend and Rhodes Drive; Phillip Kgosana Drive inbound is closed at Hospital Bend; Princess Ann Avenue is closed between Main Road and the M3; and Woolsack Drive is closed between Main Road and the M3.

IOL

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