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Relentless Effort to Quell Paardeberg Wildfire as Cape Winelands Battle Blazes

Published December 29, 2023
7 months ago

The Cape Winelands District Municipality is currently gripped in an intense struggle against a wildfire that has taken hold of the slopes of Paardeberg in the Drakenstein area. Despite the trying conditions, there has been a concerted effort by firefighters and supportive teams to mitigate the spread of the fire and shield property, livelihoods, and, most importantly, human lives from the ravages of the flame.


In what is a testament to emergency response coordination, the municipality disclosed that both air and land resources have been strategically deployed. Aerial bombardments, a critical tactic in fighting wildfires, are being carried out by contracted helicopters from Leading Edge. These helicopters took to the skies at the break of dawn on Thursday, demonstrating the proactive measures taken by authorities facing adverse situations.


The onslaught against the fire is bolstered by three firefighting vehicles, complete with crews, this effort is further amplified by four robust ground teams, carving a united front against the encroaching fire. Volunteer Wildfire Services, an indispensable asset in the fight against wildfires, is currently lending its expertise to the efforts. With handcrews drawn from various bases such as Newlands, South Peninsula, Helderberg, and Stellenbosch, the resolve to subdue the fire is evident.


Concurrently, in the broader Cape Winelands region, residents breathed a sigh of relief as a wildfire just outside Wolseley was successfully brought under control by Wednesday afternoon. Marking a crucial victory, the municipality confirmed the containment of the Romansrivier fire, which had previously been fueled by gusty south-easterly winds. The fire, now subdued thanks to the cooler, calmer nighttime weather and the formidable collaboration of different role players, remains under watchful eyes as mopping up and monitoring operations persist throughout the day.


However, the wildfire did claim one structure at La Plaisante Estate, with another suffering from water damage. It is a stark reminder of the destructive potential of these natural disasters, even as no injuries have been reported.


This period has seen the City's Fire and Rescue Service stretched in response to an array of incidents. Between December 18 and 26, a staggering 1,014 incidents were reported, with vegetation fires comprising 65% of the emergencies. Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, underlined the additional challenges posed by the persistent south-easterly winds, which were severe enough to prompt two warnings from the South African Weather Service for damaging winds. The firefighting teams also tackled sizeable vegetation fires in areas including Simon’s Town, Glencairn, Melkbosstrand, and Ottery.


As the situation unfolds, the commitment and resolve of firefighters, volunteer services, and the broader community continue to be the bulwark against the devastation caused by wildfires. The concerted efforts make clear the value of preparedness and community support in maintaining safety and security even amidst nature's most challenging trials.



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