Cape fire down, not out

Authorities say it could take until the weekend to put out the fire that's ravaged the province. Light rain in parts of the South Peninsula today brought some relief with most hotspots largely contained.
Amy MacIver and Ben Said give us the latest news on the blaze sweeping through the Cape Peninsula.
Cape Town firefighter douses flames in the Noordhoek region early on Monday, 2 March 2015. Photographer Gale McCall captured several firefighters at work to contain a fire lasting days and covering large stretches of the Cape Peninsula. Photo: Supplied / Gale McCall Photography
Jeffrey Collings helps his eighty two year old wife Fran as they walk through the remains of their destroyed home in Tokai, Cape Town, South Africa on 4 March 2015. Photo: EPA / Nic Bothma
A resident covers her nose and mouth with a cloth as she walks in smoke to help fight fires threatening homes in Clovelly, Cape Town, South Africa 04 March 2015. Photo: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

For more on the #CapeFire, click here to view the interactive timeline.

CAPE TOWN – Firefighters are dousing as many flames as possible before a south easterly wind is due to pick up in Cape Town on Thursday.

By Wednesday afternoon, most of the flames that had ripped through veld and homes in the Cape Peninsula over four days had been contained, but not extinguished.

A new fire flared up in Cape Point on Wednesday, prompting park authorities to bar visitors’ entry. One staff member said there was a lot of smoke, and visitors inside the park were being asked to leave.

“Helicopters were deployed but they had to be recalled because of the wind. There are staff fighting it on the ground,” said Richard Bosman,  Executive Director for Safety and Security for the City of Cape Town, late Wednesday afternoon.

“Constantia Nek has been sorted out and contained. We still have staff there and we are still fighting the fire.”

In other areas, such as Boyes Drive in Kalk Bay and Clovelly, firefighters were hard at work trying to put an end to what had begun days and nights before.

“They’re still busy dealing with the remnants of last night’s fire there,” said Bosman.

“We want to try and kill them,” he said of the contained fires in several areas of the Cape Peninsula.

“First of all, we are containing it and trying to kill it. We are working throughout the night, we have crews on standby, we’ll see how it goes.”

Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, eNCA anchor Andrew Barnes reported from Lakeside Fire Station, where he interviewed Dan Plato, the Minister of Community Safety in the Western Cape.

Plato disputed reports of looting at homes in Noordhoek and Hout Bay. He said he had consulted with police and Bosman, and there was no confirmation from those sources that looting had taken place.

On traffic, Plato said it was important that curious motorists taking photographs kept roads clear for firefighters. It’s important, he said, that emergency vehicles had unobstructed access to affected areas.

“Obviously, this fire might be contained but it’s certainly not out,” Barnes said to Plato.

“Definitely,” the minister replied. “We want to urge the motorists, please work with us, be patient.”

“Traffic officers might from time to time close off a road, one lane open, something like that.”

Barnes said, “The caveat to all of this, of course, is the south easter returns tomorrow,” said Barnes, “and the danger of hot spots over the next couple of days remains.”

Between Monday and Wednesday, 250 firefighters arrived in the Western Cape from other provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.

They were deployed to fight fires in the Cape Peninsula and further afield in the Overberg and Cape Winelands.

On Monday, senior citizens were evacuated from a retirement village in San Michel, Noordhoek. The same day, it emerged that a luxury lodge, Tinstwalo Atlantic, had been badly damaged.

The lodge said it would begin assessing the property damage and repairs, with the aim of trading by the end of 2015.

On Wednesday, a firefighter was admitted to hospital with burn wounds, while dozens of people were treated for smoke inhalation.

* Watch the video report by Annika Larsen in the gallery above.





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