Runaway fire threatens Franschhoek homes

2013-01-28 22:10
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Fires in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek

See the pictures from fires in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in the Western Cape.

Cape Town - Firefighters battled on Monday to contain a runaway fire in the Cape Winelands, one of several blazes raging in the Western Cape in which one person has died.

A line of nearly 17km was burning away from Franschhoek, as a senior firefighter expressed concerns about possible dangers.

"The fire is now burning out of control, it's coming down on properties," said Royston Harris, station manager of the Cape Winelands municipality fire station in Stellenbosch.

"A lot of properties are in danger, lives are in danger. We're trying our best to just save wherever we can."

Farms in the area were under threat and strong winds were making conditions difficult for firefighters, he said.

Western Cape provincial coordinator of firefighting group Working on Fire, Bianca van Biljon, said 16 teams, each made up of 15 to 24 people, were fighting fires in four areas and that reinforcements from elsewhere in the country had been requested.

Fires were still raging in the mountainous Cederberg area after starting on 17 January and 25 000ha of land have been destroyed, she said.

A volunteer firefighter died last week in Clanwilliam.

The fire had spread from Franschhoek in three directions, said Van Biljon, while there were also fires in Tulbagh and Uniondale.

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