Western Cape readies for its 'worst fire season yet' due to drought

2017-12-08 11:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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Cape Town - The severe drought facing Western Cape is expected to exacerbate fire conditions for the 2017/2018 fire season.

CapeNature has started putting more measures in place in case of fire in one of their nature reserves, while Local Government and Environment Affairs Minister Anton Bredell urged the public to help reduce fire risks and report fires as soon as they are observed. He also adds not to throw cigarette butts and make open fires outside when the wind is blowing.

SEE: Keep fires at bay – Fire safety 101 for SA travellers

“We can all make a difference in reducing human-caused fired during this season of high fire danger. Remember, fire is everyone’s fight.” 

CapeNature will partner with local government, the City of Cape Town's Fire Service, district municipality fire services, SANParks, Working on Fire, volunteer firefighters and other fire protection associations to help mitigate and fight fires. 

The Provincial Disaster Management Centre will be in charge of coordination, including the deployment of aircraft, firefighters, Working on Fire and two specialised interagency wildland firefighting crew.

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According to CapeNature's Executive Director Gail Cleaver-Christie, most fires are started by people, either on purpose or through negligence.

"Conservation Management shared disturbing research which indicated that more than 80% of the fires that CapeNature has combated are started by people."

The organisation has placed nine Working on Fire teams at high-risk reserves, and staff has also been trained to be on standby during the season.

Here's what you can do to help minimise fire danger:

  • Do not publicly distribute unverified reports of arson, if you have information report it to the nearest police station.
  • Always throw cigarette butts into marked bins.
  • When making a braai, always be mindful of the wind and of any dry materials around it, and never leave it unattended. Keep a bucket of sand or water handy just in case.
  • Always use designated braai facilities when camping or at a picnic spot.
  • Do not make open fires in the bush.
  • Never use illegal electrical connections and do not overload your multiplugs. 
  • Do not play with matches or lighters, and make sure young children do not have access to it.
  • Have a safety plan in place for your home and keep valuables in an easy-to-reach place in case of evacuation.
  • Always report any fire you see by dialing one of the emergency numbers below.

Emergency numbers:

District fire services that you can call to report a wildland fire emergency:

  • City of Cape Town: 021 480 7700
  • Overberg District Municipality: 028 425 1690
  • West Coast District Municipality: 022 433 8700
  • Eden District Municipality: 044 805 5071
  • Central Karoo District Municipality: 023 414 8176
  • Cape Winelands District Municipality: 021 887 4446
  • To report all emergencies, you can call 112 from a cellphone or 10177 from a landline toll free.

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