Extreme weather keeps Western Cape firefighters on their toes

Jenna Etheridge, News24

Cape Town – Extreme weather conditions have kept Western Cape firefighters on their feet for the past 10 days.

"Shortly after the beginning of the new year, conditions have steadily worsened. High speed winds and very dry conditions are making areas particularly vulnerable to runaway fires," said Western Cape Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell.

"Firefighting crews are working under very difficult conditions, including extreme temperatures often in excess of 40 degrees Celsius."

In Cape Town alone, firefighters were dealing with an average of 60 to 70 vegetation fires every day, said the City’s fire and rescue service spokesperson, Theo Layne.

Fires recently raged through Ocean View, Misty Cliffs and Kommetjie. Twenty structures at a Rasta camp informal settlement were destroyed.

Layne said there were currently no major fires in the city. The same could not be said for the rest of the province.

"On Tuesday evening, a fire line stretching 40km was raging across the mountains between Ceres and Clanwilliam. The fire is currently moving towards the Citrusdal area and we are monitoring the situation," said provincial disaster management head Colin Deiner.

"At present, the fire is still in inaccessible mountain areas. Active firefighting will take place if the fire starts moving down towards the farmlands in the area."

Another fire in the Rocklands/Witzenberg Valley had been extinguished.

Three areas of concern were the Cape Peninsula, the Cape Winelands and the West Coast, said Deiner.

Bredell thanked the firefighters for their hard work and asked the public to report fires immediately.

"When a fire does break out, remember that getting control over it as quickly as possible is vital. If we can get to a fire within the first hour, the possibility of a major incident is minimised."

Source http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/extreme-weather-keeps-western-cap...