Wave of fires 'suspicious' – City of Cape Town

2017-01-17 16:04
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GALLERY: Strong winds fuel Cape Town inferno

Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services fought a challenging battle against a fire in the Vredehoek area. Residents were advised to evacuate as firefighters attempts to control the fire were hindered by the extreme wind.

Cape Town – Investigations are underway to determine if the fires burning around Cape Town were intentionally started, a city official said on Tuesday.

“The spate of fires is truly suspicious and we have an investigations team that is looking into it,” safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said in a statement.  

The latest blaze, in Vredehoek, damaged four homes. It was the third extensive fire in the city within a week. A fire on Signal Hill was contained on Saturday. Fires in Simon’s Town destroyed two buildings on Wednesday.

“Where people notice suspicious activity, we encourage them to report that too because we cannot rule out the possibility that some fires are started deliberately,” Smith said.

The city estimated that the damage to the four Vredehoek homes was in the region of R4.5 million.

Between November 1, 2016 and January 12, Fire and Rescue Services responded to 5465 fires, an average of about 75 a day.

About 80% of these were classified as bush, grass, or rubbish fires.

Smith said firebreaks up to 200m wide were needed to stop fires from damaging buildings. He said firebreaks around properties affected by fires over the past few weeks had been mostly well maintained.

“However, with a freak wind like last night, you would have needed a fire break between 100m and 200m wide to stop the fire from crossing it,” Smith said.

He said on January 9, that poorly-maintained urban edges had complicated firefighting efforts in Somerset West.

"All fires are started by human activity; the issue is if it was started accidentally or is it started maliciously. So, we are investigating," Smith said at the time.

Meanwhile, firefighters had been deployed to Vakansieplaas, Mossel Bay. According to the Mossel Bay fire brigade, no buildings were currently at risk.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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