Cape Town wildfire contained, firefighters monitor flare-ups

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Firefighters battle a raging fire in  Vredehoek, Cape Town. (Photo: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images)
Firefighters battle a raging fire in Vredehoek, Cape Town. (Photo: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images)
  • Firefighting resources have been scaled down after the wildfire on Table Mountain was brought under control.
  • Crews are monitoring flare-ups in the area around Deer Park.
  • Sections of Table Mountain National Park remain closed to the public.

Except for sporadic flare-ups, fire crews have largely contained the massive wildfire that engulfed the slopes of Cape Town's Table Mountain and mop-up operations have started.

City of Cape Town officials described the blaze as one of the area's worst in years.

Around 650 hectares of the park, stretching from Rhodes Memorial to Vredehoek, were destroyed in the blaze that started on Sunday. By Wednesday, firefighters were monitoring the area for flare-ups in the Deer Park area.

At least 11 buildings were damaged in the fire, including historic buildings on UCT's campus and the iconic Mostert Mill in Mowbray.

On Wednesday morning, the City's Fire and Rescue spokesperson Jermaine Carelse confirmed that firefighting resources had been scaled down. He said firefighters were only dealing with sporadic flare-ups in the Deer Park area. He added that crews were still monitoring the areas around UCT and Philip Kgosana Drive.

It took the efforts of hundreds of firefighters, volunteers, and the South African National Defence Force's air resources to bring the fire under control.

OPINION | We may have lost things in the fire, but we didn't lose our humanity

Sections of Table Mountain National Park remain closed to the public, including Newlands Forest, Rhodes Memorial, Deer Park, and the City Bowl section.

In a statement, SANParks said the closures were "in the interest of the safety of the public and also due to the sensitivity of the areas post fire".

"We understand that hikers, cyclists, and dog walkers are eager to get back into activity, but at this stage, there are too many hazards, including potential tree falls," the statement read.

In the meantime, UCT is preparing for the return of 4 000 students who were evacuated from the campus on Sunday. The university has established a cross-divisional task team to coordinate the process. The team has begun assessing the condition of the campus in terms of health and safety.

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said: "Once we have cleaned the residences, approved in terms of occupational health and safety, the task team will provide and coordinate transport back to university residences for all students in emergency accommodation. We will make alternative arrangements for those residences deemed unsafe due to fire damage."

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