Zille on fire during State of the Province Address
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says people tossing cigarette butts from cars should to be viewed as potential arsonists.
This is because of the spike in fires in the province during the summer fire season.
Zille highlighted the problem on Friday during her eighth State of the Province Address.
“I believe that throwing cigarette butts out of car windows should also constitute attempted arson. With our winds‚ it merely takes a spark to land on a patch of dry grass and become a raging inferno‚” said Zille.
The province was hard hit by raging blazes over the festive season. This led to speculation that the fires were set deliberately.
Zille said authorities were investigating.
In the past three years there have been many runaway fires which have destroyed farms and homes.
Zille said in the last decade‚ about 12 000 fires had been reported every year. However‚ “more than 17 000 fires have already been recorded this fire season”.
“It is impossible to establish with any certainty the cause of most of these fires‚ but we know that a great many have to do with human agency‚ whether by accident or ill intent‚” she said.
Her government has commissioned 10 purpose-built firefighting vehicles to be deployed at rural municipalities in the province.
“This is a huge boost to rural areas where‚ to date‚ the firefighting capacity was severely limited. This initiative forms part of a three-year project to invest R37-million in the province’s firefighting capacity‚” said Zille.
She said that since 2012‚ the province had gone from eight to 26 firefighting aircraft operating across 31 runways.