First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

Western Cape in a sweat during weekend of intense heat...

South Africa

FIRE SEASON

Western Cape in a sweat during weekend of intense heat and multiple fires 

Fires burnt fiercely in Worcester, Western Cape on Sunday 23 January, 2022. (Photo: Emilie Gambade)

Temperatures in the Western Cape reached over 40 degrees Celsius on Sunday in some places, as reports of fires emerged in a number of hot spots in Cape Town and also Paarl, Worcester and Robertson. 

A reward of R10,000 is being offered after a fire on Ou Kaapse Weg, Cape Town this weekend. This comes as temperatures skyrocketed in Cape Town and other parts of the Western Cape. 

Heatwave-like weather warnings for the weekend had been previously issued by the South African Weather Service as well as municipal and provincial authorities

By Saturday afternoon, the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue confirmed a vegetation fire on Ou Kaapse Weg in the deep south of the city. “The swift response of the City of Cape Town’s Fire & Rescue Service, in collaboration with Table Mountain National Parks and Wildland Fire Volunteers, managed to stop the fire from spreading further,” said spokesperson Maxine Bezuidenhout. “We had 12 firefighting appliances and approximately 80 staff members on scene, including the two sets of seasonal firefighters,” a statement issued by the city confirmed. By Sunday morning, the roads were reopened and the fires had been brought under control. 

There are no confirmed reports of damage to homes or animals in the area.

An organisation called Enviro Wildfire Pty Ltd – Western Cape is offering a reward of R10,000 for information leading to a successful arrest. In a Facebook post, the organisation said it has numerous eye witnesses and was accessing traffic camera footage in a bid to pinpoint the origins of the fire. 

On Saturday, News24 reported families flocking to Strandfontein Pavilion along Baden Powell Drive to enjoy the beach and tidal pool. 

By Sunday, temperatures had reached over 30˚C in many parts of the Western Cape. Cape Town saw a maximum of 36˚C. Areas such as Paarl, Laingsburg, Beaufort West, Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert recorded temperatures above 40˚C

Fires were also reported in the nearby Cape Winelands District Municipality. Netwerk24 reported fires in Paarl (including at the luxury Val de Vie Estate), Worcester and Robertson that started on Saturday afternoon. According to Netwerk24, the district municipality advised people living in the area who wanted to make use of public spaces for relaxation not to braai because of the high risk of fires. 

Fires burned in Worcester, Western Cape on Sunday, 23 January, 2022. (Photo: Emilie Gambade)

By 11:30am on Sunday morning, the municipality reported that a fire burning in the Robertson Valley, that had started after lightning struck on Saturday evening, was still burning out of control in parts of the Langeberg Range which are inaccessible. The fire was being monitored on the Robertson and Montagu sides of the mountain. 

The district municipality also said the fire in Pearl Valley, Paarl was mostly contained, but there were concerns that wind might pick up, which could cause sparks to travel to nearby thatched structures. 

The Cape Winelands District Municipality said the next update on the fires would be on Monday 24 January at 6:30am, unless there were changes in the fires. 

Just after 2pm on Sunday, another fire was reported within the Redhill area of Simonstown. NCC Wildfires, which operates as a fire protection services, made the announcement via its Facebook page. According to NCC, fire teams from the City of Cape Town were alerted to the fire and soon after, managed to contain it.

Sunday’s heat also caused the postponement of a protest by fisherfolk and members of civil society against a seismic survey programme by Australian geoscience company Searcher Geodata. The protest was due to take place on Sunday 23 January at Muizenberg beach, but was postponed to the following weekend due to the heat experienced in the city. 

According to the weather service, temperatures are expected to drop on Monday. 

DM

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted