Piketberg fires flare up again

Time of article published Dec 8, 2005

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By Caryn Dolley

The Kapteinskop radar station was once again under threat on Wednesday as the Piketberg fires that seemed to have been extinguished on Monday morning unexpectedly flared up again.

The radar station is used for air traffic purposes and directs aircraft to and from Cape Town International airport.

Despite numerous phone calls to Air Traffic Navigation, the Langebaanweg Air Force Base and the airport itself, the Cape Times was unable to establish how the airport would be affected if the radar station was damaged or to burn down, as nobody in authority was available for comment.

Just after residents breathed a sigh of relief, the fires that have been raging since Friday - and which have destroyed two holiday houses in the mountains above Aurora - again started blazing near the radar station and also threatened more


On Monday morning, the municipal manager for the West Coast District Municipality, Wessel Raddets, told the Cape Times the fires had been extinguished.

However, Anne Vilensky of Mountain Mist Farm, above the West Coast village of Aurora, said on Wednesday it looked as if electrical cabling near the radar station, "a big concrete structure," was burning.

Vilensky said: "It's raging out of control, the flames are leaping up and they're about 200 metres from my house and going up the mountain. Luckily the wind is keeping them at bay."

At about 3.30pm, Vilensky hurriedly explained over the phone that she was helping to fight the fire and that it was being "water-bombed by helicopters".

It is believed firefighters from surrounding districts were working together to put out the flames.

Vilensky said she had seen a couple of "hotspots" on Tuesday which she believes then got out of control.

Anton Lundy, son of author Mike Lundy, who owns a cottage on the mountain, said he had been on the scene until about midday on Tuesday.

"Most of the firefighters packed up and went home that morning. There was still a bit of smouldering where it had already burnt, but it's very surprising that the fires are back out of control," said Lundy.

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