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Stellenbosch wildfire continues to ravage mountains in the area

28 February 2021 - 12:21 By belinda pheto

The Cape Winelands municipality said that Sunday's predicted hot weather would add an additional challenge for firefighters and ground teams battling a blaze in parts of Stellenbosch.

In a statement, the municipality said the weather conditions were conducive to flare-ups and were a risk for heat exhaustion for teams on the ground.

“The wind is predicted to increase speed in the late afternoon and the effect of this will be closely monitored,” the municipality said.

The municipality's fire services, together with various partners, continue to battle the blaze in the mountains and veld above Stellenbosch. Sunday marks a week since the fire started in the Overberg area.

“The incident command team have reported that the night was quiet with good progress made in certain areas, despite a major flare-up that occurred just before sundown last night in the Jonkershoek valley just above Lanzerac. The rapid deployment of resources allowed for swift containment.”

According to a statement, the fire on the peaks of Bothmaskop through to Jonkershoek are burning in very high, mostly inaccessible terrain and due to the inherent risks that the combination of inaccessibility, low visibility and dense cloud cover present, no immediate action is planned for these fire lines.

“The fire lines will either burn our naturally as they run out of fuel or will continue to burn towards more accessible areas. Once they are more accessible, firefighting resources will be deployed,” reads the statement.

The municipality said firefighting and ground teams — assisted by purpose-built vehicles — would be deployed to hotspots in the accessible Jonkershoek areas, where they will continue with the management of flare-ups, monitoring and mopping up operations. These operations will continue throughout the night and into Monday.

According to current estimations, a total area of 13,600ha has been affected. This includes the areas on the Overberg side. The teams are being replaced by fresh crews on Sunday morning.