Cape Town’s government is currently investigating whether or not there’s another, more sinister force at work behind all the fires in predominantly the Western Cape, with special teams of investigators looking into the causes behind some of the fires.
It was suspicious that so many fires were breaking out in the city and its surrounds, the City of Cape Town said on Tuesday, as firefighters battled blazes from the CBD to Paarl.
Mayoral committee member for social services and security JP Smith said the cause of the fires was being investigated.
“The spate of fires is truly suspicious and we have an investigations team that is looking into it. The summer months are bad enough as it is, with the hot and dry conditions and the strong south-easterly wind,” Smith said.
“It is a particularly stressful time for our Fire and Rescue Service, as well as the other firefighting agencies and we need the public to help us by being careful with flammable materials, and also reporting fires as soon as they spot them.
Report suspicious activity
“When people notice suspicious activity, we encourage them to report that too because we cannot rule out the possibility that some fires are started deliberately.”
According to Western Cape officials, there have been about 19 major fires across the province since the beginning of the year, mainly in the Cape Peninsula, West Coast and Cape Winelands districts.
On Monday night, a fire broke out above the suburb of Vredehoek and another in Paarl, both of which forced residents to flee their homes.
Colin Deiner, head of Disaster Management in the Western Cape, said that no sooner had the City Bowl fire been brought under control than teams had to be deployed to Paarl.
Firefighters would remain on the scene to monitor any flare-ups, he said.
“The priority for the firefighting entities remained on the fire in Paarl. Strong winds made flying very difficult. There were about 200 firefighters battling very difficult conditions. Members of the public within the affected areas were urged to remain calm and to co-operate with authorities and firefighting entities,” said Deiner.
No injuries reported
Fire and Rescue spokesperson Theo Layne said no injuries were reported at the sites of the two fires on Monday night.
MEC for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said the fires across the province had a devastating effect on the agriculture and tourism sectors.
“The costs are not limited to the damage. Businesses will not be able to operate while repairs are under way. This could impact bookings, bottom lines and most importantly, jobs.”
Tips for residents on how to prevent fires are:
- Make a proper firebreak between homes and nearby vegetation to protect property.
- Only braai in safe and designated areas and always put out recreational or cooking fires immediately after use.
- Use safety caps on all poisonous or flammable substance containers.
- When camping, extinguish candles, open fires and cigarettes before going to sleep.
- Always keep matches, lighters, paraf- fin and poisonous substances out of the reach of children.
By Sandisiwe Ntlemeza. Source: IOL News