The environmental affairs department on Friday, sent a contingent of about 1000 firefighters from its Working on Fire (WoF) programme to assist with disaster management officials in containing fires raging across the Western Cape.
“The fire crews, bolstered by aerial support, have been busy at multiple fires in Somerset West, Simons town, Tulbagh and Grabouw in the Western Cape. Over 1000 firefighters have been deployed – with some mobilised from as far afield as bases in the Eastern Cape and Free State,” the department said in a statement.
“They are being supported by a Working on Fire spotter plane, fixed wing air tractor bomber and a helicopter.”
Working on Fire (WoF) falls under the department’s Environmental Programmes and is implemented through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
“Unemployed young men and women are trained in various fire management and suppression skills including but not limited to firefighters, drivers, brush cutters, dispatchers, helicopter safety leaders and environmental educators.”
In Witzenberg, the fire started on January 10, and close to 40 firefighters from WoF assisting CapeNature and Cape Town Disaster Management were currently in an ongoing effort to contain the fire.
The fire in Somerset West has largely been contained and according to the Cape Peninsula Fire Protection Association, the fire in the Sneeuberg Mountain is under control and ground teams will begin with mop-up operations in the area, the department said.
“Since the start of the fire season (1 December 2016) ground and aerial support have been instrumental in the suppression of 57 fires and limited the areas burnt by 95 959.3 hectares throughout the Western Cape. Firefighting aircraft have racked up 432.3 flying hours,” the department said.
“For January 2017 alone, ground and aerial support were instrumental in the suppression of 39 fires and limited the areas burnt by an impressive 26 492 hectares throughout the Western Cape. Firefighting aircraft racked up 285.2 flying hours.”[Source: SABC]