Swift reaction and collaborations contain wildfire on Boyes Drive, Cape Town
Fire fighting services were quick to control a fire that flared up in Boyes Drive, Cape Town, on Monday, 16 January 2023. Five speedily dispatched helicopters helped fire services contain the blaze within an hour. Table Mountain National Park’s (TMNP) operations section chief, Clinton Dilgee, said, “The call came at 15h11 with most resources standing down at 21h00 with a remaining NCC Type 1 Crew of 20 departing the area the following morning. The incident commander was Philip Prins (TMNP), operations section chief (OSC) was Clinton Dilgee (TMNP) and divisional support was Clifford Sauls of NCC. Due to the duration of the fire a full IMT was not established. There is a very good collaboration between the major stakeholders ie TMNP and the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services.”
Dilgee added, “A strong southeasterly wind at 55km/h average assisted pushing the fire down onto Boyes Drive allowing the crews to catch up with the head. The age of the vegetation varies from eight to 10 years and older as some of it also burnt in the March 2015 wildfire.”
“The area where the fire started did not burn during the March 2015 wildfire. This lead to extremely dense fynbos making progress slow and required fire fighters to work with hoses supplied by the various tankers on scene”, said Dilgee.
“When receiving the first report of the fire, with was accompanied by pictures, it was clear that the area where the fire was burning, together with the localised weather, that a very aggressive response was going to be needed. Spotting over Boyes Drive into the Lakeside residential area was a concern, which occurred later but was soon contained. The TMNP-NCC contract crews based at the Newlands Fire Base were immediately dispatched along with three Huey helicopters (one Huey from SANParks and two Hueys from the City of Cape Town. Three TMNP water tankers were despatched along with an additional TMNP-NCC contract crew and a Working on Fire (WoF) crew who was still engaged with mopping up operations from the Sunday evenings fire at Llandudno. An additional call out for Volunteers Wildfire Services (VWS) crews was placed with approximately 40 VWS fire fighters eventually attending the incident. Total crews including TMNP-NCC contract crews, NCC Type 1 crew, VWS and WoF, added up to approximately 123 fire fighters working under TMNP command. Total aerial resources consisted out of three Huey helicopters with a fixed-wing spotter, which was later supplemented with an additional two Hueys from the Quick Response Force (QRF). Approximately 12 City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services’ vehicles were also on scene” explained Dilgee.
He continued, “The 20 person NCC Type I hand crew who monitored the area through the night reported on the Tuesday morning that it was fairly uneventful with minor hotspots encountered. No injuries or structural damage encountered. The total area burnt to date is a total of approximately nine hectares.”
Drone footage Rob Erasmus of Enviro Wildfire Services is seen talking to Zenande, NCC squad leader, whilst they were mopping up on the Boyes Drive fire via his thermal camera drone. With the drone Erasmus is piloting that has specific imagery equipment on it, he was able to direct the crew members to the exact spot where he picked up a heat signature. Some drones have a bad reputation on fire lines but as can be seen from this example, under the right conditions and with the approval of the incident commander, these ‘tools’ are extremely valuable to all working the line.
Challenges faced Challenges faced included the wind, which played a major factor in directing resources. Aerial resources: drop accuracy was affected by the strong south easterly wind.
The origin and cause was investigated by Enviro Wildfire Services. A vagrant was apprehended with the outcome pending.
Video 1: Peter Mann, Just Shoot Me Digital Sources: Philip Prins and Clinton Dilgee, Table National Park (TMNP); NCC Wildfires; Rob Erasmus, Enviro Wildfire Services
FRI Media (Pty) Ltd is an independent publisher of technical magazines including the well-read and respected Fire and Rescue International, its weekly FRI Newsletter and the Disaster Management Journal. We also offer a complete marketing and publishing package, which include design, printing and corporate wear and gifts.