Major fire breaks out at Elgin Fruit Juices in Grabouw; spread to informal settlement
A fire broke out at Elgin Fruit Juices in Grabouw on Friday afternoon, 1 July 2022 and then spread to Gaffley's Transport and the Waterworks informal settlement in the Overberg District. Overberg District Fire and Rescue Service’s Graeme Roberts, division commander for the Grabouw area, said, “At 13h57 a call was received from control who reported a fire at Fruit Juices Grabouw. I dispatched three pumpers from Grabouw and I also responded. At 14h03 Grabouw vehicles and personnel arrived on scene.”
Roberts added, “My initial size up was that countless wooden bins were burning and the fire was being fanned by a strong wind. On the Fruit Juices premises a store was engulfed in flames and on the adjacent property ie Gaffley’s Transport, a bus was burning. The three pumpers from Grabouw were tasked to do structure protection and to prevent the spread of fire, Gaffley’s Transport and Fruit Juices factory.”
“I could see that this fire was going to be a daunting task to bring under control and contain due to the amount of material that could still burn and the potential of fire spread to neighbouring properties. A call was made to activate Overberg District Municipality vehicles from Caledon, Bredasdorp as well as Overstrand and City of Cape Town”, said Roberts.
“The fire fighting vehicles that responded included two pumpers and one tanker with a fire officer from City of Cape Town, one pumper and one tanker with Assistant Chief Angelo Aplon from Overstrand, one pumper with Divisional Commander Pieterse from Caledon and one pumper with Platoon Commander Arends from Bredasdorp.”
Roberts said, “Incident command was set up in the premises of Gaffley’s Transport and I was the incident commander. The abovementioned vehicles and personnel were all activated between 14h03 and 14h27. Their arrival times were between 14h52 and 15h43”.
“My request for additional pumps and services had just been logged when strong winds carried embers across the road into the informal settlement area. I tasked two pumpers that were on Fruit Juices premises to the informal settlement where the fire had just started. The fire within the informal settlement had escalated and upon arrival of City of Cape Town, I requested that they assist Overberg District Fire and Rescue with the shack fires. The pumper from Bredasdorp was also dispatched to the informal settlement and Overstrand assisted at the Fruit Juices fire.”
“At 16h13 the fire at Fruit Juices as well as the informal settlement fire was brought under control by fire fighting services. Mopping up ensued until the following day.”
“Damages caused to informal structures, store, bus, bins and a section of a power line due to heat, were enormous. Thankfully, no injuries were reported,” said Roberts.
“The challenges we all faced were most definitely the gale force wind that was ever present and hampered fire fighting operations such as poor visibility and fire behaviour. Initially, crowd control was problematic until Traffic and South African Police Services were on scene.”
The cause of the fire unknown.
Source: Graeme Roberts, division commander Grabouw area, Overberg District Fire and Rescue Service Grabouw Fire Station