Vredehoek residents fleeing their homes. Screengrab
Vredehoek residents fleeing their homes. Screengrab

Suspect arrested in connection with fires raging on Table Mountain

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Apr 19, 2021

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Cape Town – A suspect in his thirties has been arrested in connection with the fires raging on Table Mountain, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith confirmed on Monday morning.

’’There is a lot of speculation currently about additional fires that were started, and whether the original fire was an act of arson. This will form part of investigations, but the City can confirm that one suspect in his thirties was taken into custody last night in the vicinity of Devil’s Peak,’’ Smith said in a statement on Monday morning.

Smith said the suspect had been spotted by a resident, who had tracked him down with the help of his sons and the family’s dogs. He added that the matter is with SAPS for investigation and further details will follow as they become available.

’’The fire that initially started in the vicinity of Rhodes Memorial just under 24 hours ago continues to rage and has spread in the direction of Vredehoek,’’ Smith said.

’’All efforts remain focused on active firefighting for the moment, although the fire is hard to reach in places and we hope that aerial firefighting support can be deployed to douse the flames before it reaches the urban edge. However, the wind could impact on this deployment.

’’For the moment, there are some precautionary evacuations taking place in Vredehoek, but no other evacuations were necessary overnight.

’’We commend the firefighters, Disaster Risk Management staff and volunteers, the enforcement staff and every other agency and individual who have played a role in the efforts to contain the fire, and continue to do so.

’’We would also like to thank the public for opening their hearts and wallets to the firefighters, but also the students who were evacuated by UCT.

’’There has been property damage, details of which are in the public domain, but the City will do a full assessment once the fire is under control.

’’Thus far, two City firefighters have been injured and we wish them a speedy recovery.

’’For now, the focus is on bringing the fire under control and we appeal to the public to assist the authorities by following instructions in respect of evacuations where necessary, staying away from the active firefighting scenes so that firefighters can focus on the job at hand, and by reporting any information that may be relevant to the investigations into this incident.’’

In Vredehoek, Chelmsford Road and Pepper Tree Road have been closed as well as Tafelberg Road, said the City’s Traffic Services spokesperson, Maxine Bezuidenhout.

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

Roeland Street in the CBD, at Phillip Kgosana outgoing, has been closed due to poor visibility on Phillip Kgosana Drive. Vehicles have been diverted down Kuyper and Derry streets. Noordelik Road has been closed as well.

Anton Bredell, Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, said in a statement: ’’It is going to be a very tough day and we urge the public to work with the emergency responders and the authorities. Stay away from the affected areas.

’’Anyone who is able to avoid the City Bowl today and able to work from home is urged to do so due. Residents in the affected areas are advised to take note of the heavy smoke and soot and to seek medical attention if breathing becomes difficult.”

IOL

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