Wind fans Cape Town mountain blaze

Strong overnight winds fanned the blazes in Cape Town.
Image: Twitter: Anthony Molyneaux

BELINDA PHETO

Cape Town’s City Bowl residents are on high alert on Monday morning as strong winds fan the fires that ignited on Sunday.

More than 250 firefighters from the city, Table Mountain National Park, Working on Fire and the Volunteer Wildfire Services remain on the ground, fighting the blaze on many fronts, the city said on Monday morning.

“The fire has now spread towards the Vredehoek area as a result of the south-easter. The wind speed increased from about 2am this morning and additional fire crews are now stationed at the Pepper Tree and Chelmsford area.

“As a precaution these areas were evacuated. Crews are on Tafelberg Road as the wind speed is predicted to increase throughout the morning. This could also potentially impact the deployment of aerial firefighting support this morning,” the City of Cape Town said.

The 1Second traffic alert service shared on Facebook that the south-easterly wind is blowing at 46km/h.

“This day ahead will be very challenging for our firefighters and EMS personnel,” it said.

Resident Dylan Moore posted: “Roads above Chelmsford have been evacuated in Vredehoek. The fire is raging and the down wind isn’t helping! Been up since 4am keeping an eye on the situation as we’re right next to Herzlia [school]. Packed our bags in case this wind forces the flames down to us.”

On Sunday night, the city reported the wildfire on the slopes of Table Mountain National Park continued to burn and firefighting efforts to contain the blaze would continue throughout the night.

The fire is reported to have started just before 9am on Sunday close to Hospital Bend, moved up towards Rhodes Memorial and then towards the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) upper campus.

UCT said the campus was on lockdown, with only emergency personnel allowed on the premises. The university safely evacuated 4,000 students and has made emergency accommodation and food available for them.

On Sunday SanParks said an initial investigation pointed to a fire vacated by a vagrant as the origin of the blaze.

“One of the major contributors to the rapid rate of spread was the very old pine trees and their debris. The fire created its own wind that further increased the rate of spread. The excessive amount of smoke and related updrafts made it impossible for aerial support to slow the rate of spread,” it said.

 

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