Overstrand blaze: Man accused of starting fire to apply for bail next week

2019-01-14 18:14
The Kogel Bay mountain fire. (Supplied by City of Cape Town)

The Kogel Bay mountain fire. (Supplied by City of Cape Town)

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The man accused of starting the devastating blaze that destroyed more than 12 000 hectares of vegetation in the Overstrand in the Western Cape, briefly appeared in court on Monday.

Shelton April, 34, appeared in the Caledon Magistrate's Court, where he heard his formal bail application would be heard on January 23, a court official confirmed.

He faces a charge of contravening the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, for allegedly causing a fire, discarding a burning object in a place where it could start a fire, and acting in a manner likely to cause fire.

It is understood that a flare had been set off in Betty's Bay on New Year's Day, leading to a fire in the mountains.

The fire has burnt at least 12 800ha of land and most of the critically endangered vegetation that was burnt falls within the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. 

Firefighters have been fighting tirelessly on separate fronts in Franskraal, Betty's Bay and the Hermanus area for two weeks.

READ: Overberg fires: Man, 71, injured while evacuating home, 'mop-up operations' continue

Cobie Rossouw, 59, died as a result of suspected smoke inhalation in Pringle Bay, Netwerk24 reported.

A 71-year-old male was seriously injured while evacuating his home in the Betty's Bay area, according to the Overstrand municipality and Hermanus CPF Joint Operations Centre (JOC).

In total, the wildfires destroyed at least 31 houses and left 28 partially damaged.

On Monday, the JOC said efforts to contain the fires had been largely successful and mop-up operations were ongoing.

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