Cape fires put out ... for now

BILLOWING: Smoke seen on top of a mountain during a fire on the outskirts of Grabouw town on Wednesday. 25/02/09. Pic. Schalk van Zuydam. © AP.
BILLOWING: Smoke seen on top of a mountain during a fire on the outskirts of Grabouw town on Wednesday. 25/02/09. Pic. Schalk van Zuydam. © AP.

Fires which were threatening historic wine estates in Somerset West have been put out "for now", Cape Town Fire Management said yesterday.

Fires which were threatening historic wine estates in Somerset West have been put out "for now", Cape Town Fire Management said yesterday.

"The fires may have been put out for now, but hot spots remain; whether they flare up again all depends on the weather," said control room officer Deon Smit.

"If hot and windy weather conditions continue, they may just start again." He said that 30 firefighters and emergency personnel were on standby, in case the fires flared up again.

"They are on scene . if the fires flare up, then we have people on the ground to tramp them out as soon as possible, but for now, the wine estates are no longer under threat."

The fires had raged on three farms, posing a threat to the Vergelegen, Lourensford and Knorhoek wine estates.

By Wednesday, the fire which could have reached the Lourensford wine estate had died down. "Late on Wednesday, one last fire was raging in Adventure Park, but that was finally put out," senior communications officer for Cape Town Fire Management Winston Davids said.

"There was nothing left to burn on that farm, whatever was left to burn, was burnt."

Smit said the two other fires were put out by firefighters and helicopters carrying water bombs. Two helicopters were used, one from the SA National Defence Force and the other from Working on Fire.

Davids said the fires started about a month ago in the Gebou area. Hot weather and heavy winds resulted in the fires flaring up and spreading to Somerset West.

"They start off small, and are fuelled by hot and windy weather conditions. As we extinguish the fires, hot spots remain high up on the mountains, and then flare up once again . sometimes it is very windy, causing the fires to spread very fast," Davids said.

Smit could not say how much damage has been caused. - Sapa

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