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Urban-fringe Properties a Burning Issue

Constantiaberg Bulletin Burning Issue
An unfortunately timely reminder from the Constantiaberg Bulletin 19 November

In a timely article in today’s Constantiaberg Bulletin, ‘Protect your land from fire‘, Karen Watkins sends out a warning to Capetonians, one echoing statements made by Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) Fire Manager Philip Prins in the Afterword to The Cape Aflame – Cape Town’s Dance with Fire:

“Where residential developments on the WUI are exposed to extreme wildfire conditions and homeowners have not paid adequate attention to their defensible space, i.e. their home and its immediate surroundings, built structures and people are endangered.

Because responsibility for preventing such fires falls largely on the property owner, I strongly urge residents living on the urban edge to address conditions within their defensible space.”

Philip Prins – TMNP Fire Manager

Watkins’s article focuses on the establishment of a partnership between the Zwaanswyk Association of Property Owners (ZAPO) and the City’s Green Jobs Unit in the aftermath of March’s Muizenberg Fire which destroyed two properties and caused extensive damage to a third in that suburb. The partnership seeks to carry out the alien and invasive species regulations resulting from 2014’s National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA).

SANParks, the City of Cape Town and myriad organisations are, through such legislation, education and practical advice, willing and able to help homeowners protect their properties. Sadly – and with a small amount of rain predicted for tomorrow, the wildfire that started above Simon’s Town yesterday appears set to further hammer home the need to secure our defensible space on the city side of the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).

Throughout most of Cape Town, our WUI amounts to little more than a firebreak (albeit extremely effective) or a fence and footpath.

Update: Wildfire Burning Towards Simon’s Town

Reports and images posted to Twitter showed the wildfire contained to the Klawer Valley yesterday afternoon, somewhere between Signals School and the ammo dump (behind North Peak), with yr.no predicting the wind swinging from southeasterly to northwesterly overnight, setting the fire up to turn back on itself.

Yesterday evening, with WoF, SANParks, CoCTF&RS, VWS and other fire crews on the line and air tractors and an SANDF Oryx bombing the fire, the situation seemed to be in hand.

However, this morning EWN reported TMNP Fire Manager Philip Prins stating:

“Late last night we had about 100 firefighters between Table Mountain National Park and the City Rescue Fire Services on scene. Unfortunately conditions got very bad late last night and we reduced the crew to about 30. One flank of the fire is contained, one flank is still continuing.”

With the wind slow to swing (it was blowing from the west at midday) the fire, having crested North Peak and Simonsberg overnight, is now burning back down through dense fynbos towards Simon’s Town’s Seaforth and Froggy Pond areas. From the images attached to this post and a quick scan of Google Earth, it seems we’re watching a potential disaster unfold immediately west of where a fire above Murdock Valley precipitated our first blog post in September.

Monitor the VWS Twitter feed for updates on the fire.

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