Some Cape Town fires started deliberately - report

Cape Town - Two of the three fires that ravaged the Cape Peninsula in March this year were deliberately started, while a third - the largest of the three - was probably started accidentally by some vagrants.

This is according to a forensic investigation report released on Thursday by the City of Cape Town.

Forensic investigator Dr David Klatzow said that he found clear evidence that the main fire had started at the top of Pecks Valley above St James.

He said a partially burnt blanket and two lighters indicated that this was where the fire had started.

A picture supplied with the report shows a rocky outcrop where the vagrants could have started their fire.

"There is little doubt that the main fire which burned across to Hout Bay had its origin in or near this rock shelter and that its cause was human agency."

He said it "was in all probability accidentally caused by vagrants, religious groups or overnight campers".

He said the fire that started further south along Scarborough Road could not have been caused by anything else but human activity.

"There were no potential electrical causes present."

He reached a similar conclusion for the fires that broke out along the slopes of Clovelly.

They were, he said: “Most likely caused by deliberate human agency, with the view of starting a large scale fire."

The fires made international headlines, destroying more than 3 000ha and several homes, especially near the Tokai forest.

The City has not finalised figures yet, but it is believed that the fire will cost ratepayers anything between R20m and R40m.

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