Reinforcements called to Cape fires

Cape Town - Working on Fire said on Monday that additional teams have been called in to battle veldfires that are raging in the Western Cape, with resources already stretched to capacity.

In a statement, the organisation said that 14 of its teams are already deployed at fires which are burning near Cederberg mountains near Clanwilliam, Franschoek, Tulbagh and in the Uniondale area in the Eden District.

Spokesperson Linton Rensburg said a decision was taken to call in reinforcements from the Eastern Cape and the Free State, and another five teams will now assist "the already exhausted WoF teams in fighting these various veldfires which are currently burning".

According to Rensburg, 25 000ha of veld has already been destroyed in Clanwilliam alone.

Police said earlier that a 59-year-old man died in the fire which was reportedly sparked by lightning.

"Through the ongoing co-operation between WoF, various local municipalities, the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Cape Nature and various Fire Protection Associations we have largely been able to ensure that there is a co-ordinated response to fighting these fires."

In addition to the ground resources, WoF has also deployed 10 helicopter water bombers, 8 spotter planes and 8 fixed wing water bombers and 37 pilots to the Western Cape to assist with suppressing these veldfires, the statement said.

"Aerial firefighting resources have become a critical component of integrated fire management and they play a leading role in quickly suppressing fires in an initial aerial attack which consists of water bombing fires."

In the past eight weeks, WoF has assisted local authorities to suppress and control more than 50 veldfires in the Western Cape.

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