Firefighters battle to control Bainskloof Pass fire

Cape Town - Firefighters are battling to put out a fire raging through orchards and olive groves in the Bainskloop Pass area of the Cape Winelands on Sunday.

"It moved rapidly due to the wind," Working on Fire (WOF) spokesperson Lauren Howard told News24 of the fire that started on Saturday during the extremely high winds.

In further details posted on its Facebook page and on Twitter, WOF said the fire spread on Saturday morning and fire crews were unable to contain it as it came down around Kranskop.

The wind made it impossible to use their helicopters and air support.

"Ground crew consisting of 87 firefighters from Working on Fire, CapeNature, Cape Winelands District Municipality and BCC wildfires have been deployed to try and contain the fire which is now burning high up in the Kranse," WOF said.

No injuries had been reported by Sunday morning and resources were "stretched to the limit".

In addition, more than 40 firefighters were helping the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, CapeNature, Eden District Municipality, Greater Cederberg Fire Protection Agency, and private landowners in containing fires in Ladismith, Contreberg, Bergrivier Draai and  Skoenmakersfontein.

Firefighters in Cape Town were also on code red with back up from as far afield as the Free State as more gale force winds are expected to whip around the city and the Table Mountain National Park.

A fire on Signal Hill was put out late on Saturday in extremely windy conditions.

Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) fire manager Philip Prins said that fire was most likely caused by a cooking fire made by people who move from the inner city to spend the night in the bushes in the Schotsche Kloof area near Bo-Kaap.

Three helicopters and about 40 firefighters are on standby in Cape Town with weather warnings stating that extremely high fire danger conditions are expected.

This is not just for parts of the Western Cape, but also in the Northern Cape, extreme western parts of the Free State and North West.

The SA Weather Service also predicts gale force south-easterly wind of 65-80km/h between Table Bay and Cape Hangklip in the morning, and between East London and Port St Johns.

High temperatures and the dry vegetation caused by a prolonged drought has increased the risk of fires in the province significantly.

In Cape Town the 25 000 ha of the TMNP are particularly vulnerable as only the 7000 ha of the Cape Point region of the park are fenced off.

Prins urged visitors not familiar with the windy conditions, and anybody intending to make a braai or cooking fire to be especially careful and make sure there is some protection around the fire to prevent its spread.

"Make sure you put your braai in a safe area," he urged.

In addition, residents who live near the boundary of the TMNP should make their braai fires within a barrier so that it cannot spread.

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