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Minister commends firefighters for efforts to bring Overberg blaze under control

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms 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.

“The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment notes with concern the fire that emanated in Kleinmond in the Western Cape.  As a matter of course, the Fire Protection Association in the area (Overberg) is expected to compile a fire report regarding the facts pertaining to the source/origins of the fire, said Minister Creecy.

“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,” said the Minister.

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 on the ground and aerial resources continue to assist with suppression efforts at the fire in Kleinmond in the Overberg District of the Western Cape.

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 the Overberg (Kleinmond) 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 and two Huey and one Black Hawk helicopter have been deployed since Saturday to provide additional aerial firefighting capacity. Additional aerial resources remain on standby at Stellenbosch airfield and at Newlands firebase. The helicopters and planes have already made 284 water drops during 65 hours in the air.

Our WoF teams are assisting the Overberg District Municipality, Overstrand Municipality, Provincial Disaster Management, Cape Nature, and the Department.

A structure has reportedly burned, with no loss of life thus far.

Since the Summer Fire season officially began in the Western Cape on 1 December 2021, including Kleinmond, the team has assisted in fighting and suppressing 22 fires across the province.

The fire in the Kleinmond area of the Overberg has been fueled by high temperatures and gale-force winds.  The wildland fire is also believed to have burned more intensely in areas rife with alien invasive vegetation.  However, fynbos, which is destroyed during a wildfire, is dependent on fire to germinate and thrive.

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