Friday, 1 February 2013

Winelands fire rages for fifth day

Helicopters take turns trying to douse a fire in the Wemmershoek Mountains in the Western Cape winelands. The defence force has been called in to help provincial teams deal with several hotspots. Photo: Ross Jansen

Cape Town - A fire raged for a fifth day in the Western Cape winelands on Thursday, as firefighters battled a new blaze with military assistance.

Around 9 000 hectares, largely vegetation on the mountains, has burned since Sunday in the town of Franschhoek.

“The fire is still raging in that mountain range around Franschhoek towards Du Toitskloof,” said Etienne du Toit, deputy director of the Fire Brigade Service for the Western Cape.

“With this wind, you have continuous flare-ups. We anticipated that it would burn for at least seven days.”

Six helicopters and a spotter plane, 15 fire engines and 55 firefighters battled the fire on Thursday.

Firefighters and four helicopters and a military chopper were also dealing with a fresh blaze in a pine plantation in Wolseley, north of Franschhoek.

A defence force helicopter and crew was assisting in fighting the fire.

Du Toit said the fires were typical of the time of the year.

“This is the fire season so it's not unusual to have fires of this nature,” he said.

The fire in the Franschhoek area was not under control, but no lives were at risk.

“It doesn't pose any threat to lives or property at this stage,” said Du Toit.

Another fire which started in the scenic Cederberg mountains area two weeks ago, and claimed one life, was declared safe on Thursday.


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