PICS | Fire rages behind mountains in Stellenbosch

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Jonkershoek fire.
Jonkershoek fire.
Cape Winelands District Municipality
  • A fire is raging in Banhoek and the Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch. 
  • The fire started after strong winds picked up on Thursday.  
  • More than 100 firefighters were still battling the flames by Friday afternoon.  


A fire was raging in Banhoek and the Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch on Friday. 

A pall of thick smoke created an orange glow in the sky as more than 100 firefighters, supported by aerial teams, worked to put it out.  

The fire is being fanned by strong winds. 

Cape Winelands District Municipality spokesperson Jo-Anne Otto said the orange glow in the sky was caused by a combination of dry fynbos and vegetation that had a high oil content and ash.  

Jonkershoek
Jonkershoek fire.
News24 Cape Winelands District Municipality
Jonkershoek
Jonkershoek fire on Thursday night.
News24 Cape Winelands District Municipality

The Stellenbosch Municipality urged Jonkershoek residents to co-operate with officials if they arrived at their properties as the fire moved through dry and brittle vegetation. 

Otto said the elderly, young children and people with co-morbidities, such as asthma, or those who required extra care, should make arrangements to stay with friends or family in other areas.

"Should you feel threatened and wish to leave your home, please secure your home, but leave all gates open," the municipality said in an urgent public announcement on Facebook. 

The Cape Winelands District Municipality's Fire Services, CapeNature, Overberg District Municipality and Fire Protection Association are part of the team trying to bring it under control.  

Active

"The fire teams continued with active firefighting, the monitoring and management of flare-ups and mopping up operations throughout the night," a statement from the municipality said.  

"Fresh teams have replaced the previous shift and are deployed to high-risk areas, where there are still active fire lines." 

Eight purpose-built firefighting vehicles as well as 107 firefighters and ground team members are at the scene.  

Aerial resources will be deployed when conditions are favourable.  

The smoke could be seen from kilometres away, including from Strand. 

Fire
The smoke left an orange pall in the sky from as far afield as Strand.
News24 Charlen Raymond

The team said it was worried the hot, windy weather would make the situation worse and contingency plans were in place in case there was a threat to life or property.  

The fire had been burning high in the mountains for a few days, with extreme temperatures exacerbating the situation. 

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the fire teams had worked throughout the night to contain the fire. 

All hiking and biking trail enthusiasts have been warned trails in the area were closed and the authorities have asked that they should not be used because the wind direction could change at short notice.  

The Stellenbosch Municipality said no loss of life or injuries had been reported by early Friday afternoon. 

Residents in the Jonkershoek Valley were advised to remain hydrated, keep windows and doors closed, keep pets safe and to remove outdoor furniture where possible.

Otto said the fire was expected to continue until at least Sunday given the current wind levels and heat forecast.

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