Fire near Worcester claims five structures


The Cape Wineland District Municipality’s (KWDM) fire services and several other organizations and volunteers continued to fight several fires in the Breede Valley and Witzenberg area on Saturday morning.

However, despite firefighters’ best efforts, some of the fires spread overnight and several structures remained in flames.

The fire at Kluitjieskraal in Wolseley still occupies two active firelines. This fire already started on Monday.

The first fire line spreads in the direction of the Bainskloof Pass and is fanned by a strong breeze and high fuel load. It spread rapidly late Friday afternoon, which resulted in the Bainskloof Pass having to be closed. The pass has meanwhile only been opened for fire vehicles and residents and other motorists are advised to use alternative routes.

“Fire crews focused their attention on protecting property. During the night, the fire line jumped over the road, and to prevent it from spreading into the lush vegetation along the river, teams had to jump quickly,” says Jo-Anne Otto, spokeswoman for the KWDM.

On Saturday morning, the fire line spread in the direction of Steenbok Park. No structural losses have been reported so far and active firefighting and structural protection will continue throughout the day, Otto says.

The second fire line is located on the Gouda‑Saron side of the mountain. “This broken fire line burned high in the inaccessible areas of the mountain and spread slowly. During the night, the line spread to a more accessible area, where fire crews and equipment can reach it. Crews will be deployed to that fire line today.”

Meanwhile, the fire that started yesterday afternoon in the Fire Service area above Worcester is still burning out of control in two areas.

“Fire crews, air support and ground crews had their hands full as this fire quickly spread to flatter areas where structures are located. Despite great efforts, five structures were destroyed,” says Otto. “When the line reached the more mountainous areas, it split into two parts. The left flank burns towards the cliffs, where teams are making good progress, while the right flank is a bit more problematic due to a higher and denser fuel load.”

Otto says that as far as both fires are concerned, there are large areas where the active fires are contained, but the ground is still very hot. “This heat, combined with the warm weather, makes flare-ups likely. Fire crews will continue the important work of monitoring and clearing tasks in the plains.”

Otto also asks that motorists yield to fire vehicles and not stop on the road to view firefighting efforts because it impedes the flow of traffic.

“We thank the landowners, farmers and their employees for their support and help, as well as the communities, organizations and individuals who donated so generously. For now, our teams are well taken care of.”