Wildfire breaks out at Ou Kaapse Weg in Cape Town, arson suspected
A wildfire broke out at Ou Kaapse Weg in Cape Town on Saturday, 22 January 2022. Multiple agencies responded to the incident that was reported at 13h12, according to Philip Prins, manager: Fire for Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). Prins, who was also the incident commander, said that the fire was burning in approximately seven-year-old fynbos in very hot and dry conditions. “Temperatures were around 36 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity (RH) of 37 percent. Operation section chief, Clinton Dilgee, also acted as the air tactical group supervisor,” said Prins.
“Response included TMNP crews from the Newlands Fire Base (25) with two 6 000lt tankers as well as an initial attack vehicle with 1 200l capacity. TMNP crews were supplemented by 34 members from Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) as well as 12 members from EVS. City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services also responded with various crews and engines. Aerial resources included three Huey helicopters as well as the Blackhawk helicopter. Working on Fire crews assisted with mopping up operations”, added Prins.
The fire was contained at 13h12 and mopping up operations continued till 19h00. The area burnt was approximately five hectares, according to Prins.
The initial attack included ground crews supported by aerial resources, which was immediately dispatched from the Newlands Fire Base as well as Stellenbosch Airfield. Good cooperation between crews from TMNP and City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services.
"The swift response of the City of Cape Town's Fire and Rescue Service, in collaboration with Table Mountain National Park and volunteers, managed to stop the fire from spreading further," said City of Cape Town's Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse.
"We had 12 fire fighting appliances and approximately 80 staff members on scene, including the two sets of seasonal fire fighters. Choppers waterbombed the area and returned to base just after 14h00."
Challenges faced included the high temperatures and the traffic on Ou Kaapse Weg, which necessitated the closure of the road.
The fire was started deliberately at eight different places along Ou Kaapse Weg and the cause of the fire is under investigation by Rob Erasmus from Enviro Wildfire Services.
Sources: Philip Prins, Manager: Fire, Table Mountain National Park; Rob Erasmus, Enviro Wildfire Services