Five firefighters injured in Cape Town wildfire, extent of blaze revealed

More than 400 hectares of mountainside burnt so far

Five firefighters have sustained burn injuries while fighting the wildfire that broke out in Cape Town on Sunday.

No further details about their condition have been provided.  

Minister of local government, environmental affairs and development planning in the Western Cape Anton Bredell said conditions had deteriorated overnight with the wind picking up strength and fanning the flames.

“The wind speed is expected to increase during the day, which may impact on the deployment of aerial firefighting. The helicopters cannot fly if the wind is too strong and the visibility too poor but the situation will be fully assessed,” he said.

Bredell said more than 250 firefighters from the city, Table Mountain National Park, Working on Fire and Volunteer Wildfire Services remain on the ground.

Precautionary evacuations were carried out in the Vredehoek area on Monday.

“It is going to be a very tough day and we urge the public to work with the emergency responders and the authorities. Stay away from the affected areas.

“Anyone who is able to avoid the City Bowl today and work from home is urged to do so.

“Residents in the affected areas are advised to take note of the thick smoke and soot and to seek medical attention if breathing becomes difficult,” he said.

More than 400 hectares of mountainside has been burnt so far and the fire has yet to be contained, SANParks said on Monday morning.

SANParks officials are barring residents from entering the park at points close to or adjacent to the fire-affected area.

“With users attempting to go about their usual running, cycling or walking their dogs, we will not be able to fully concentrate on the fire especially in the Newlands forest and Rhodes Memorial zones,” said SANParks spokesperson Rey Thakhuli.

“It is for this reason that we urge users to stay away from the following areas: Newlands forest, Groote Schuur Estate, Rhodes Memorial, Devil’s Peak, Tafelberg Road, Vredehoek and Deer Park sections of the park. That includes all recreation areas below and above Tafelberg Road, which will remain closed until further notice,” Thakhuli said.

Five firefighters suffered burn injuries while fighting the wildfire in Cape Town.
Five firefighters suffered burn injuries while fighting the wildfire in Cape Town.
Image: Twitter: City of Cape Town

Residents could still access the mountain in the south and central sections which have not yet been affected by the fire, which is being fanned by a strong southeasterly wind. 

The city said it will inform residents timeously if there is a need to evacuate more affected areas and said people who wish to leave the area of their own accord are welcome to do so.

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company has suspended operations due to the fire currently raging on Table Mountain.

The fireline is currently threatening the City Bowl area, having started on the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak near Groote Schuur Hospital on Sunday morning. The cableway would remain closed until the area had been declared safe, said TMACC managing director Wahida Parker.

Meanwhile, residents in the vicinity of the fire are advised to take precautionary steps including:

  • remain hydrated;
  • keep windows and doors closed until further notice as protection against smoke and heat;
  • keep pets indoors where possible; and
  • move garden furniture that is flammable under cover where possible.

The SPCA is on hand to assist displaced animals.

Residents in the affected areas are advised to remember the following in the event of an evacuation:

  • take chronic medication with you;
  • remember identity documents, passports and cellphones; and
  • keep a bottle of water on hand.
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