Fire in Western Cape 'out of control'

2012-01-19 12:42

Johannesburg - Firefighters in the Southern Cape were battling a wildfire along a 20km fireline on Thursday, Working on Fire (Wof) said.

"This fire is burning in fynbos and is out of control," spokesperson Leanne McKrill said.

Helicopters fitted with Bambi-buckets were waiting for mist to clear on Thursday morning to help.

In Swellendam, a fire had been burning for eight days and WoF was bringing in teams from other parts of the province to relieve its firefighters, McKrill said.

Smaller wildfires were being reported across the province, which is currently at the peak of its annual wildfire season.

Wildfire season

High winds, hot weather and little rainfall make the summer months in the Western Cape prone to runaway veld and forest fires.

The Western Cape wildfire season runs from December 1 to April 30, but is increasingly overlapping these dates as weather patterns change.

The northern parts of South Africa have a winter wildfire season in the dry, cold months.

Manuel Chikwanda, from insurance company Lion of Africa, said the fires in the Western Cape raised major concerns over the readiness of businesses and landowners to deal with unexpected fire.

He warned landowners and businesses to adhere to fire legislation or risk forfeiting their cover in the event of fire damage.

"The cost of non-compliance far exceeds the cost of compliance when you consider the loss of profits, operational delays and reputational damage that occurs when a business is incapacitated due to an extreme event such as fire."

Landowners must join Fire Protection Associations

Businesses were not saving money by ignoring fire safety requirements, he said.

South Africa has updated wildfire legislation that requires all landowners to ensure their properties are clear of alien vegetation and protected from wildfires by fire-breaks.

In high-risk wildfire areas, landowners are required to join Fire Protection Associations which co-ordinate measures to prevent wildfire and work with emergency services in a disaster.

This year, the City of Cape has on standby a fleet of bomber and spotter planes and helicopters fitted with Bambi-buckets to fight fires on the urban fringe and in national parks surrounding the city.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts

  • Jono - 2012-01-19 12:51

    Good luck guys!

      Jay - 2012-01-19 14:46

      There is a number you can call for the Stompie Hotline (this is seriously not a joke) 021 424 7715. This is for Cape Town and you report the vehicle and give the reg number. To the guys battling the fires, Good Luck and watch the blisters in the nose ;)

  • Anthony - 2012-01-19 12:55

    wow if only we had the technology to divert the floods up north down here?

  • Leon - 2012-01-19 13:00

    Sterkte en voorspoed manne!

  • Miriam - 2012-01-19 13:08

    Journos and sub-editors, please wake uuuuuuuup. Where is this fire you are talking about? The Western Cape is pretty damn big. If it is indeed the Swemmendam fire, it would be handy to mention it in the headline /intro. Remember the who/what/where/when/why rule? Regards, a fellow journalist.

      sorryson3 - 2012-01-19 13:36

      Is spelling also a rule for journous ??

  • Travers - 2012-01-19 13:26

    this is how articles will look like after media censorship, just alot of nothing?

  • Shannon - 2012-01-19 13:41

    Wishing all involved in keeping the fires in the W.Cape under control, as well as trying to prevent additional ones, much strength and endurance!!! Best of luck.

  • Ann - 2012-01-19 13:47

    Please angels be with these brave fire fighters and save our beautiful areas. :)

  • Getafix - 2012-01-19 14:18

    Anyone notice some cars just don't have ashtrays? These cars are sold then to a smoker, who subsequently just doesn't bother to get a ashtray fitted and throws em burning cigs out the window. Ashtrays should mandatory to pass roadworthy, in the hunt to stop runaway fires. Ashtrays are good at holding loose coin for that emergency tin of oil on the odd day too. Win win idea if you ask me.

      Heiku - 2012-01-19 15:59

      Please do me a favour and go and try and start a fire with a cigarette. Using anything. Petrol, blitz, dry grass. It's impossible.

  • lizna.boshoff - 2012-01-19 14:28

    In the past week or so I know about huge fires that have burnt thousands of ha's; mostly in Tulbagh/Wolseley area, Swellendam and also around Cape Town. I'm quite up to date with fire news as I work in a related industry, yet I don't know what fire they are talking about...???

      charmaine.rowlands - 2012-01-19 15:45

      perhaps because THEY don't know which fire they're talking about. Headline says "Western Cape" first line of the story says "Southern Cape" LOL... however, wishing all the brave firefighters strength and God-speed

  • Trevor - 2012-01-19 17:46

    Use Zumas new jet...otherwise it will rust up just like the submariens

  • Kate - 2012-01-19 18:17

    @Alicia wish I had known about the hotline I was travelling along Bains Kloof from Ceres and the people driving infront of me threw cigarettes out the window on the mountain pass! I managed to follow them into wellington and when they stopped I got out and confronted them- they were from england on holiday ! I told them not to through their cigarettes out in our beautiful country as they will cause a fire and be arrested! They appologised - just hope they dont repeat it!

  • aardvarkie - 2012-01-19 19:32

    Why does it say "Johannesburg - " in the beginning? This is the Western Cape is it not? Anyway, if it's near Swellies, my old home town, hope everyone is okay and nobody got hurt.

  • @RossWZA - 2012-01-19 20:35

    That's what you get for voting DA

      lizavdh - 2012-01-30 00:30

      Veld fires???????

  • Neville - 2012-01-19 21:37

    Some of those STUPID drivers throwing their STOMPIES out the window is sickning they put other peoples life's in danger ,

  • Comrade - 2012-01-20 12:21

    Thank goodness its in the Western Cape...anywhere else in SA and we would have a serious problem.

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