Properties, cars affected by fire

Firefighters battle a fire that started on Tafelberg Road on Sunday March 15.

Hiking and mountain biking trails on Lion’s Head and the Glen footpaths were closed this week following a fire that caused havoc on the mountain.

The fire started on Tafelberg Road below the Table Mountain Aerial Cable Car precinct, on Sunday, March 15 and due to windy conditions, spread rapidly in the direction of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.

Approximately 60 hectares of vegetation which includes fynbos and old pine stands was burnt. Several roads including Kloofnek Road, Geneva Drive and Camps Bay were closed.

The City had more than 200 staff members in various locations to fight the fire.

Firefighters from the Table Mountain National Park, Working on Fire and Volunteer Wildfire Services members battled the blaze throughout the night and seven firefighters were injured during the process.

City’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse, confirmed that four properties were affected around Higgo and Trek road and 11 cars including private cars, Avis cars and SANParks cars were burnt on Signal Hill Road.

A number of residents in Nettleton Road in Clifton were evacuated and 33 people were evacuated from Table Mountain and 65 from Signal Hill.

The City said it made emergency shelter available at the Clifton Community Hall, but this was not required by the evacuees.

Sharing her story on Facebook, a resident who was evacuated, Karen Blankfield Horler, said she begged and pleaded with a passing fire truck to save their house. “I walked away resolute in knowing our City firemen would do their very best, that’s how they work – they did that for us in 1995.

“A couple of hours later my son and I returned with pizzas and drinks and the worst was over, our homes were miraculously still standing (again).

“No words can adequately describe my emotions and gratefulness to these men. Their commitment and passion for the work they do beggars belief. Come what may they were determined to save our homes even though they had just come from the Trek Road fire line. Our City needs to treat these men like gold, they are irreplaceable and they define the essence of humanity. They need to be rewarded handsomely,” she said.

On Monday morning, Table Mountain National Park( TMNP) dispatched three Huey helicopters and one fixed wing Spotter plane to wet down actively burning areas.

A total number of 100 firefighters remained on scene through the day. Volunteers from the Volunteer Wildfire Services were activated in the evening to monitor the area and continue with mop-up operations. TMNP and all fire agencies request that the public exercise extreme caution during the remainder of the fire season.

The City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, praised the firefighters for their brave efforts in containing the fire. “These staff members, together with the Table Mountain National Park staff, Working on Fire and Volunteer Wildfire Services members have been pushed to their limits and I would like to thank them for their effort thus far. It is also important to extend a word of gratitude to the other support services like traffic, law enforcement, Metro police and community structures who have been lending a hand in managing the situation away from the fire line. The City also extends its best wishes to the seven firefighters who have been injured and who are receiving treatment,” he said.

The cause of the fire was not yet determined and SANParks spokesperson, Lauren Clayton said an investigation was under way.

She said SANParks has appointed Enviro Wildfire Services to do an investigation into the cause and origin of the fire.