Franschhoek town blaze threat over, but flames persist in high mountains

2019-02-22 17:47
Fire fighters of CWDM and Working on Fire keep an eye on the fire line high in the Franschhoek mountains. (Working on Fire)

Fire fighters of CWDM and Working on Fire keep an eye on the fire line high in the Franschhoek mountains. (Working on Fire)

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Firefighters have declared that a blaze near Franschhoek is no longer a threat to the town or agricultural property, but sections in areas situated high in the mountains are still a problem, the Cape Winelands District Municipality said on Friday.

The fire has been burning since Monday and at times, threatened to encroach on the small town, which is known for its literary festival and wine.

"The fire team are making use of many resources to fight this fire; 140 firefighters, 22 fire vehicles and three helicopters have been deployed to try to contain the fire," the municipality stated in an update on Facebook.

READ: Firefighters manage to redirect Franschhoek inferno away from town, agricultural areas

The municipality's fire protection services, CapeNature and the Winelands Fire Protection Association continued to work on putting it out altogether after it started on Monday. 

So far 6 235ha of veld, with a mixture of fynbos and forest, making up a total fireline of 5km, have been burnt. 

Teams are also working on preventing flare-ups in areas where the fire was put out. 

On Thursday night, Franschhoek Pass was closed as firefighters used the pass road as a breakline in a strategic backburn tactic to protect the town.

Wet lines were also created, and this appeared to have driven the fire back. The pass was reopened on Friday and there have been no reported injuries. 

In the meantime, Working on Fire (WOF) announced the addition of a Black Hawk helicopter, which was bought from the US by a private company and contracted to the firefighting service to help during Western Cape's fire season. 

The helicopter, which has been painted white, will arrive at Stellenbosch airfield on Saturday.

Working on Fire said the Black Hawk, better known for its military capabilities, could dispense 3 000 litres of water and foam mix per drop. This would bring an added advantage to the helicopter fleet that has been firebombing hard-to-reach mountainous areas. 

The arrival of the Black Hawk UH-60 is via an arrangement between WOF and the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires
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