Air support has been brought in to battle a large fire in the Overstrand area in the Western Cape.
The fire has devastated areas close to Betty’s Bay, Pringle Bay, Hangklip and Rooi Els.
“I’m still in the area at the moment and the air attack has been able to start; the helicopters are here and they are rapidly bringing the situation under control,” Overstrand Executive Mayor Dudley Coetzee said on Thursday morning.
He said that firefighters were making progress in putting out the blaze, which saw roads being closed and people being evacuated from their homes.
“There were people evacuated during the night and they have been returned to homes,” said Coetzee.
Battling the blaze
But the fire has not been contained yet as crews continue to battle the blaze.
“The fire is not under control yet. There are three divisions – one in Mooiuitsig Betty’s Bay, also at a line that runs toward Pringle Bay,” Overstrand Fire Services & Disaster Management Chief Lester Smith told News24.
“We’re waiting on another SANDF Oryx helicopter to come and assist.”
Roads in the area are still strained due to the impact of the fire.
“Currently, we closed the R44 between Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay due to a huge veld and mountain fire,” Western Cape Provincial Traffic Chief Kenny Africa stated.
“The alternative route from Hermanus to Cape Town is via Bot River, the N2, Grabouw, Sir Lowry’s Pass to get to Cape Town and Somerset West.”
Smith said that about 110 crew from various departments were battling the fire.
“We have approximately 50 crew on the ground; then we also have 60 crew from Working on Fire, Environmental Services and CapeNature.
“Currently, the ground crew works 10 hours on the line and the professional crew works 24 hours on the line.”
News24 reported that 250ha had been damaged and the municipality had offered an R5 000 reward for information on the person responsible for starting the fire on New Year’s Day.
Coetzee said that reconnaissance activity was continuing to monitor the fire’s movement and help had been provided from various agencies.
“We have had help from the province, from the City of Cape Town, and from various other municipalities as well,” he said.