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Firefighters from Free State brought in to help battle Cape wildfires

05 November 2018 - 11:13 By Timeslive
A trail of destruction was left by the wildfires that spread across the Garden Route at the end of October 2018.
A trail of destruction was left by the wildfires that spread across the Garden Route at the end of October 2018.
Image: Garden Route District Municipality

Free State firefighters arrived in the Garden Route to relieve exhausted colleagues who have been battling wildfires that have ravaged an area more than four times the size of the Knysna blaze in 2017.

Working on Fire (WOF) and the Garden Route District Municipality said in an update on Tuesday that 100 firefighters had arrived overnight at base camp in George.

Several fires have been raging in the Garden Route for days‚ forcing residents to be evacuated from various areas and‚ at times‚ resulting in the closure of roads as thick smoke made for dangerous driving conditions.

The blaze was being fought on several fronts on Tuesday by 323 firefighters‚ 39 vehicles‚ six spotter aircraft‚ five helicopters and three water bombers.

“At the current moment Working on Fire resources form the bulk of firefighting efforts and they are from various parts of the Western Cape‚ Free State and the Eastern Cape. Additional aerial resources consisting of four WOF spotter planes‚ three Huey helicopters and one fixed-wing air tractor bomber have now touched ground to supply much-needed support.”

Cool weather with low-speed winds helped firefighters on Monday night.

“These conditions reduced the running lines on the northern fire line and reduced the heat intensity of flare-ups along these lines. Fire lines were active in the De Vlugt area and in the south-west area of the fire.

“Flare-ups were contained through the evening and early hours of the morning‚ which are minimal at the moment and are addressed in short periods of time. Many lines have effectively been contained‚ but the long distances and accessibility of lines do make mopping up slow and difficult in certain places.”

Firefighting efforts on Tuesday would be concentrated on Jonkersberg‚ De Vlugt and Buffelsnek.

The situation early on Tuesday‚ according to the latest update‚ is as follows:

  • Herold to George: The southern line on Jonkersberg fire and Groeneweide Farm have not yet joined. Active lines that moved south during the evening were anchored on old plantation roads and suppressed where possible. No threats at this point. Plantation lines on the urban interface have been well contained‚ with good scratch lines and effective mopping up. Northern area at Highlands Lodge has been contained and is currently being mopped up.
  • Buffelsnek to George: Lines are mostly being mopped up and containment actions are progressing. Activities are still focused on the Goudveld hot lines.
  • De Vlugt: Firelines are still active along Jonkersrust in heavy fuels and alien-infested areas. Dubbelberg‚ Jonksrus‚ Enselin and EP van Rooyen all have active lines which are being anchored‚ suppressed and mopped up where possible.
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