Betty's Bay blaze: Wind, terrain hampering efforts to put out fire

2019-01-04 11:30
Fires have devastated the Overstrand municipality. (Supplied)

Fires have devastated the Overstrand municipality. (Supplied)

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The fire in the Overstrand is somewhat contained, but the weather and terrain is making it difficult for firefighters to beat the blaze, say officials.

The fire devastated areas near Betty's Bay, Pringle Bay, Hangklip and Rooi Els over the past few days. Police have arrested one man for contravention of the Nature Conservation Act.

READ: Man arrested over devastating Betty's Bay, Pringle Bay fires

"The fire remains active above Betty's Bay, high in the mountain. The road is very steep and it's difficult to work on the site," Incident Commander Angelo Aplon told News24.

Aplon has been on site for 24 hours and said that the teams were determined to beat the fire, despite the tough conditions.

"We're trying to get guys on the mountain, but it's difficult. We do have a helicopter on site, but whenever the helicopter works, we needs guys on the ground."

One person has died as a result of the blaze. Police are investigating.

"This office can confirm that a 59-year-old woman who stayed in Elizabeth Road, Pringle Bay, passed away this morning at about 01:20," Captain FC van Wyk told News24 on Thursday.

READ: 1 killed, 3 injured in Betty's Bay, Pringle Bay blaze - fire chief

'Visibility is bad'

News24 identified the victim as 59-year-old Cobie Rossouw. Three others, including an 18-month-old baby, were injured.

Smoke is also playing havoc with firefighting efforts.

"The visibility is bad, because the smoke is blowing over the fire line. You must see what you're doing," said Aplon.

He added that a fresh team of firefighters were being prepared for duty and variable wind conditions.

Overstrand Fire Services and Disaster Management chief Lester Smith told News24 on Thursday that a team of about 110 firefighters from various agencies was working to fight the fire.

"We're trying our utmost to get this fire out. It's not something that we would like to prolong. The last thing that we want is more injuries," said Aplon, adding that one firefighter had sprained an ankle.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) predicts a 30% chance of rain for the Overstrand area on Saturday and light winds of under 20km/h on Friday.

SAWS also issued veld fire warnings for Robertson, Prince Albert and Laingsburg in the Western Cape; for Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape; and for Calvinia, Garies and Pofadder in the Northern Cape.

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