It’s not just the sun that’s blazing in Simon’s Town this week. A fiery fire has taken over the mountain slopes, turning the area into a scene straight out of a disaster movie.
What caused the Simon’s Town fire?
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More than 200 firefighters have been deployed to douse the flames. They’re armed with a fleet of firefighting equipment, including 20 pumps, four water tankers, and four skids – making it less of a fire brigade and more of a fire battalion.
In the sky, five aerial support craft are playing their part, returning early in the morning to assist with water-bombing efforts.
The situation has led to precautionary evacuations of residents from Simonskloof and Harbour Heights. It’s less of an early Christmas vacation and more of a ‘get out of your house before it becomes toast’ situation.
So far, only a single derelict building has been damaged, which is somewhat of a silver lining in this smoky scenario. The SA Navy, probably more used to dealing with water than fire, found itself part of this unwanted fiery spectacle.
It hasn’t been an easy fight for the brave firefighters, with five sustaining injuries in the blaze and two taken to hospital. There have also been reports of people evacuated by ambulance due to smoke inhalation.
Supporting the firefighting efforts, the Working on Fire (WOF)-Kishugu Joint Venture ground and aerial resources have been focusing on the hotspots, collaborating with other firefighting agencies.
In a heartwarming display of community spirit, animal welfare groups are on standby to protect both wild and domestic animals at risk of being injured by the fire.
How common are wildfires in Cape Town?
Wildfires in Cape Town around this time of the year are often fueled by a combination of dry vegetation and strong winds, common in the summer months.
The region’s unique Fynbos vegetation, while beautiful, is particularly prone to burning. Preventative measures such as controlled burns are sometimes used to reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires.
However, when fires do break out, they can be challenging to control, particularly in areas with difficult terrain.
Residents and visitors are often advised to be vigilant during fire season, adhere to fire safety regulations, and avoid activities that could ignite fires, such as open flames or discarding cigarettes carelessly.