Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy, has commended some 300 firefighters, who have been battling the blaze in the Overberg region of the Western Cape since Saturday.

The fire, which is reported to have started in the department’s Pine Plantation in the Kleinmond area, has destroyed more than 4 000ha of vegetation.

Creecy said the Fire Protection Association in Overberg is expected to compile a fire report regarding the facts pertaining to the source or origins of the fire.

“In the interest of public accountability, the Director-General of the department has asked the Acting CEO of SANParks to undertake an assessment of the Kleinmond fire. The services of SANParks have been enlisted since they have internal capabilities to undertake an assessment of this nature.

“The scope of the assessment will include the origins and causes of the fire, whether fire breaks and other preventative measures were in place and any other factor that may have exacerbated the fire,” the Minister said.

Creecy said once the assessment has been received and processed by the department, the findings and recommendations will be made public.

The department’s Working on Fire is still on the ground and aerial resources continue to assist with suppression efforts at the fire.

Working on Fire has deployed 169 firefighters and management, inclusive of pilots and helicopter support staff, five fire trucks, two transport buses, as well as three bakkies to assist fire authorities in Overberg, with continuous fire suppression efforts since Saturday, 8 January 2022. A total of 116 additional firefighters from local municipalities have been deployed.

“Three spotter planes, two Huey and one Black Hawk Helicopters have been deployed since Saturday to provide additional aerial firefighting capacity. Additional aerial resources remain on standby at Stellenbosch airfield and at Newlands fire base. The helicopters and planes have already made 284 water drops during 65 hours in the air,” the department said.

The department said the team has assisted in fighting and suppressing 22 fires across the province since the summer fire season officially began in the Western Cape on 1 December 2021.

Source: South African Government News Agency