Signal Hill fires 'undoubtedly arson', local teen identified as suspect

2017-01-15 11:23

Cape Town - Residents of the Bo-Kaap on the slopes of Signal Hill have identified a teenage boy as a suspect in the recent fires that broke out in the area, a Cape Town city official said on Sunday.

"When the fires started, [the residents] noticed that the fire was ignited at three separate points about 10 minutes apart," said mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.  

"[It was] undoubtedly arson," he added.

Smith said community members identified a teenager – who they believe is about 14 – as the person who started the fires near the old zoo on Signal Hill on Friday night.

However, the boy ran away before police could arrive on the scene.

The fires spread rapidly in the wind but they were contained by Saturday.

Smith said the City was dealing with up to 100 fires, "on the worst day". 

All were caused by people. Officials were trying to establish which were negligence, such as the recent Grabouw fires, or which were clearly malicious, such as the Signal Hill blaze.

"We are asking people to come forward with information," said Smith.

He said a reward was negotiable.

Wildfires in Somerset West and Simon’s Town during the past two weeks had cost the City of Cape Town R10 million, with three months of the fire season still ahead.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires  |  arson

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