At the weekend, the Working on Fire – Kishugu Joint Venture faced a huge challenge as they mobilised 291 firefighters, 29 vehicles, and 24 aerial resources to battle and contain 11 fires across the Western Cape.
Fires were reported in various locations, including Cape Town, Hermanus, Grabouw, Malmesbury, Kluitjieskraal, Paarl, and Oudtshoorn.
This comes days after firefighters battled a vegetation fire in Simon’s Town.
The rapid and efficient response by Working on Fire, in collaboration with partners such as Table Mountain National Parks, Overberg District Municipality, Provincial Disaster Management, Fire Protection Associations, Garden Route District Municipality, City of Cape Town, and Cape Nature, played a crucial role in preventing the further spread of fires and safeguarding communities and ecosystems.
General Manager of Working on Fire Antoniette Jini assured that Working on Fire remains on high alert, ready to respond promptly to any requests for assistance, emphasising their continued priority on the safety of communities and the environment.
Amidst these efforts, the City of Cape Town faced additional challenges. Alderman JP Smith, in a separate statement, revealed that the Fire and Rescue department responded to a fire near the Steenbras dam above Gordon's Bay. Aerial firefighting and ground crews worked tirelessly throughout the day and night to contain the blaze.
Subsequent incidents included fires in Slangkop and Pinehaven, the latter raising suspicions of arson as a vehicle hastily left the area upon the arrival of the first fire engine. The fire, dangerously close to the Kleinplass reservoir water treatment works, led to an overnight battle by crews, necessitating additional aerial support at first light.
The water treatment facility was successfully protected, but the City's Water and Sanitation department is assessing potential damages to the water supply infrastructure network.
“Damage to critical infrastructure can carry a prison sentence of up to twenty years, of those found damaging such vital aspects of the City's water supply network. The City is offering a reward for information that will lead to the arrest of any person responsible for the fire that threatened either of the Steenbras or Kleinvlei water treatment facilities,” said Smith in a statement.
SANParks has recorded an unprecedented number of fires, prompting an investigation by Enviro Wildfire Services to determine the likelihood of arson. The City urges the public to report any suspicious activity and fire incidents to the relevant authorities to ensure a swift and effective response to emergencies.