Gansbaai fire ‘set on purpose’, reward for information

Henry

A preliminary report after last week’s fire at Bella Vista between Gansbaai and Stanford indicates that it was probably set on purpose.

The Overstrand municipality is now offering a reward of R15 000 for any information that will lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of the guilty parties.

The municipality confirmed on Thursday that more than 1,100 ha were destroyed in the fire. The fire raged on both sides of the R43 road with more than 100 firefighters trying to bring it under control and finally put it out.

Fire pattern indicators were used during the investigation which identified ten possible points where the fire could have started. Other possible causes, including Eskom infrastructure, a fire that accidentally spread and negligence, have already been ruled out. There was also no sign of forest sleepers or wood that had been cut.

According to the report, all indications are that the perpetrator or perpetrators who started the Bella Vista fire have done it before and will do it again. However, catching these people in the act appears to be an unprecedented task and therefore a reward is offered for information.

Annelie Rabie, Overstrand’s mayor, says it is worrying that – if it is indeed arson – people in the Overstrand community will deliberately endanger the lives of other residents and firefighters.

“Luckily there was no loss of life, but the damage to the environment and the costs of fighting the fire are enormous,” she said.

She hopes the reward will help catch the culprits as in the case of the Betties Bay fires in 2019.

Anyone with information in this regard is requested to call the fire services’ control room on 028 312 2400 or send an e-mail to enquiries@overstrand.gov.za.