Car plunges off Chapman's Peak, catches alight and starts wildfire in strong winds, Cape Town
A woman is being treated in hospital for multiple injuries after her car veered off Chapman's Peak Drive in Cape Town, plunged down the mountain and caught alight on Thursday, 17 February 2022. Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson at the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service said, “We were alerted at 18h15 of vegetation alight on the slopes of Chapmans Peak Drive, Houtbay. Crews from Hout Bay, Constantia, Wynberg and Lakeside were on scene with six fire fighting appliances and 24 fire fighters. City of Cape Town and Rescue Service Hout Bay Fire Station’s senior fire fighter Clive Rooza said, “At approximately 18h20, we were dispatched to what was known as mountain slopes alight on Chapmans peak just before the lookout point. Upon arrival, we saw that the slopes below the road were burning with extreme strong winds. A security guard approached us before we got to work; he called us back down the road and had pointed out that a civilian was laying about 100 metres down the slopes where flames were rapidly approaching her. At that exact moment our primary function turned from fire fighting into a rescue,” said Rooza.
Rooza and learner fire fighter Ricardo Rossouw jumped into action and through tough and difficult terrain rushed to her aid. “Upon arrival, we saw an adult female laying with her head toward the roaring flames and then decided to pick her up out of the harsh conditions, we struggled due to her injuries to move her into a better position as her head was bleeding profusely and numerous injuries. Eventually the flames were too close for comfort and over powering us, we came to the conclusion that we could not move her therefore decided to fight the fire that was approaching us by all means so she can survive. We went to put out the flames with only pieces of bush that was around us. The rest of the crew on the road were preparing equipment urgently to attack the fire and timeously bringing medical equipment to treat the patient and to better her situation”, said Rooza.
He added, “A medic from Community Crime Prevention (CCP) arrived on scene to assist the patient. The rest of the fire crew went further down to the vehicle, which was alight, another 80 to 100 metres down in the ravine to check if there were any other patients trapped.”
“We were assisted by Working on Fire with three helicopters and fire fighting ground crews. We were also assisted by Metro Rescue and Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) teams with bringing the patient up to the road way. The patient was then loaded into a Hout Bay Volunteer EMS ambulance”, Rooza said.
Wilderness Search and Rescue spokesperson Johan Marais said details of the accident are not clear, “but it appears that her vehicle went over the edge and burst into flames and set the surrounding vegetation on fire”. “Wilderness Search and Rescue volunteers brought a stretcher down the slope, helped secure the patient and brought her up to the road using a rope system.”
Carelse added, “The fire scene was handed over to SANParks at 21h43. The vehicle was burnt out.”
The father of the woman said on social media, “Many groups and people involved in securing the safety of my daughter on Thursday night. I am so grateful to all who assisted and for all the emotional support received from hundreds of people.
She is stable in Groote Schuur Hospital and will be there for many weeks; she has spinal cord damage and has a long road of recovery and rehabilitation ahead. She needs all the love and support to give her a will to live and I ask all to flood her with love and support. Please spread this far and wide. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Sources: Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service; Clive Rooza, senior fire fighter, City of Cape Town and Rescue Service; Community Crime Prevention; Johan Marais, Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR)