300 penguins evacuated after Guy Fawkes night fire

2015-11-06 13:26
The happy penguins go for a swim. (Francois Louw, SANCCOB)

The happy penguins go for a swim. (Francois Louw, SANCCOB)

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Cape Town – About 300 penguins had to be evacuated after a fire broke out on Guy Fawkes night at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve.

But a Fire and Rescue services spokesperson denied that a Guy Fawkes party held on Blouberg beach was the cause of a fire in the area that resulted in the evacuation of the 300 seabirds at nearby SANCCOB.

Rumours on social media on Friday suggested the blaze was the result of a city-approved fireworks party held on Blouberg beach on Thursday night.

Fire and Rescue services’s Liezl Moodie said the fire had died down around noon on Friday.

"The fire started last night after 20:00 in Pentz Drive, Blouberg. It’s an extensive area of reeds," she told News24.

"We currently have seven vehicles on the scene assisted by Working on Fire and Table Mountain National Park."

Moodie though said the areas were a significant distance away from Blouberg beach, and denied the rumours that the fire had been caused by the fireworks festival.

"The wind was actually blowing back onto the water," she said.

Penguins evacuated

SANCCOB spokesperson Francois Louw told News24 that the blaze forced the centre to evacuate its animals for safety reasons.

"We were alerted last night at about 20:00 that there was a fire at Rietvlei Nature Reserve," SANCCOB spokesperson Francois Louw told News24 on Friday.

"We had personnel watch over the premises over night. The fire started getting close to the property at around 07:00 and that’s when we started evacuating."

Louw said SANCOBB received great help from the community, with lots of volunteers chipping in to ensure the birds were safe.

"This is our busiest season when we get most of our abandoned chicks, and more than 80 little baby chicks that were abandoned at Betty’s Bay were part of the evacuation."

The birds were placed in boxes in a car park on the premises, and watched over by volunteers.

Louw said the seabirds were moved back into SANCCOB’s Health Centre around 11:00 on Friday.

"They are swimming again and are happy," Louw added.

Penguins safely back at the SANCCOB Health Centre. (Supplied, SANCCOB)

Handle with care. (Supplied, SANCCOB)

The fire at Rietvlei Nature Reserve. (Supplied, SANCCOB)

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires  |  animals

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