Vredehoek fires linked to the homeless – City of Cape Town

2017-01-20 11:40
Pupils from United Herzlia Schools in Vredehoek cleaning their school grounds after wildfires in the area. (Supplied)

Pupils from United Herzlia Schools in Vredehoek cleaning their school grounds after wildfires in the area. (Supplied)

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WATCH: Vredehoek residents on the fire line count the costs

2017-01-17 13:08

At least two residential properties were damaged during a wild fire that erupted during strong winds on the slopes of Devil's Peak on Monday night - taking over 100 firefighters to extinguish. We spoke to a Vredehoek resident that was affected by the blaze. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town – Homeless people sleeping on the slopes of Table Mountain in Vredehoek could be responsible for starting fires which ravaged the area, the City of Cape Town said on Friday.

"That was the assessment of officials on site, yes. We don't know if fires were started to 'keep warm', but fires were apparently started by (people) sleeping in the bushes there," the City's mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, told News24 on Friday.

The Vredehoek fires on Monday night reportedly caused damage of up to R4.5m.

- Read more: Pregnant mom fled home with toddler as flames neared

The Haven Night Shelter CEO Hassan Khan, however, said that it was unlikely that the homeless would start wildfires.

"It depends on the information authorities are aware of, but fires are usually started by people who have braais or leave glass bottles behind."

"Homeless people are unlikely to have a braai," Khan said.

Spate of fires 'truly suspicious'

Smith told News24 on Thursday that eyewitness accounts suggested that the Signal Hill fire on Sunday was started intentionally. 

"In the case of the Signal Hill fire, we have a witness who saw three separate plumes of smoke with intervals, as if someone was walking from one to the next," Smith said.

Smith said in a statement on Tuesday that the current wave of fires was "suspicious".

"The spate of fires is truly suspicious and too much of a coincidence. We have an investigations team that is looking into it," he said.

Western Cape disaster management head Colin Deiner told News24 on Thursday that 99% of fires were started by humans.

"Most of the time it is only because of negligence," Deiner said.

Western Cape police asked the public to report any information about the cause of fires to their nearest police station or to Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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