After a quiet first few months of the current fire season, firefighters throughout the country were kept busy in September with fires in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
Firefighters were kept on their toes in Limpopo, especially over the weekends, as they battled multiple fires across the province. “We are working very close with the landowners, Fire Protection Associations, government and all other affected stakeholders to ensure that we respond faster,” says Sam Maepa, the General Manager for Working on Fire in Limpopo.
Our firefighters in Mpumalanga also experienced an increase in wildfires during the past six weeks, with some big fires in the Sabie/Graskop and White River areas. According to Martin Bolton, the General Manager of Working on Fire in Mpumalanga, the provincial partnership with the Fire Protection Associations and the Disaster Management Centre has ensured a much quicker and coordinated response to wildfires.
“Working on Fire is committed to saving lives and protecting the environment and the properties of landowners and we are urging communities to remain vigilant over the next few months and not to start unnecessary fires,” Bolton says.
In the most recent fire, which threatened the school building at the Uplands Preparatory School in Mpumalanga, Working on Fire aerial and ground firefighters received high praise for their quick response in bringing this fire under control.
“We are grateful for the support from Working on Fire, which managed to douse the flames near all the buildings, and we only appear to have cable damage at this stage,” says Dave Ernstzen, the headmaster at the school.
In the Western Cape, the Keurbooms fire which broke out on 29 August 2016 near Plettenberg Bay, and continued for several days into September, was the largest wildfire in the Southern Cape and destroyed 10 000 hectares. More than 200 firefighters from Working on Fire, the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association, CapeNature, Cape Pine and the Eden Municipality Fire and Rescue Services were instrumental in the suppression of this huge fire.
Eastern Cape firefighters also experienced a much busier period over the past six weeks and they suppressed more than 40 fires in August, which burnt an estimated 5315 hectares.