Stellenbosch, Franschhoek fire: 2 firefighters injured, but progress in bringing blaze under control

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Jonkershoek Valley fire.
Jonkershoek Valley fire.
Dewald Koen
  • Two injured firefighters, with serious injuries, were transferred for specialist care.
  • The Cape Winelands municipality said good progress was made in bringing the fire under control.
  • The municipality thanked people for their generosity in bringing food, hydration and balm for the firefighters.

Two firefighters were seriously injured while battling the blaze above Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and were subsequently transferred for specialist care.

The Cape Winelands municipality said there were no other reports of injuries on a day in which good progress was made in bringing the fire under control.

However, the heat affected the amount of time the helicopters could stay in the air. The fire was attacked from above, in support of firefighters working on the ground in tough terrain.

The fire has raged for a few days and, on Friday, it resulted in an orange pall over the sky, as smoke from the fynbos and oil from other plants blended with the ash and billowed into the air.

Jonkershoek
Jonkershoek fire on Thursday night.
Jonkershoek
Jonkershoek fire.
Fire
The smoke left an orange pall in the sky from as far afield as Strand.

Spokesperson Jo-Anne Otto said the incident command centre reported that, due to favourable wind conditions on Saturday, the aerial resources made good progress on the fire lines on the higher slopes and peaks of Bothmaskop through to the Helshoogte Pass. 

"There is a small fire line on the peak above Banhoek, but it is inaccessible by foot or vehicle, and water bombing will be ineffective due to the steep cliffs," she said.   

"The fire in the valley below Jonkershoek is proving challenging. The teams reported that repeated flare-ups were difficult to bring under control due to the hot weather."

Bush

Jonkershoek is a vast area of forest and bush near the town of Stellenbosch. 

"The firefighters, ground crews and vehicles will focus their attention on managing this fire during the relative cool of the night," said Otto. 

The South African Weather Service is predicting temperatures reaching into the high 30s on Sunday, which will make the firefighters' work even tougher.  

There has, so far, been no loss of life or infrastructure.

The municipality and its partners thanked everybody for the generous donations, and said there was more than enough for the next few days.


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