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Cape fire: 5,000 hectares of land reduced to ashes

Residents, farmers & fire officials are assessing the damage from the Cape's most devastating fire yet.

Firefighters battles the blaze. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - As residents, farmers and Cape Town officials start counting the costs of five consecutive days of a wildfire on the Southern Peninsula, it's emerged more than 5,000 hectares of land has been reduced to ashes.

The blaze broke out in the mountains above Boyes Drive in Muizenberg on Sunday and fuelled by a south easterly wind, spread at a rapid pace to the Noordhoek, Tokai and Hout Bay areas.

Residents in Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia and Tokai were forced to evacuate their homes when the fire took an ugly turn in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The entrance to the Tokai Forest was closed to all members of the public and media.

Image: Stephen Phillipson/EWN

The City of Cape Town's Fire and Rescue Services' Liesl Moodie says crews are now keeping a close eye on hot spots.

"The firefighters are still on scene just monitoring and standing by to ensure safety and that the area remains safe and under control."

Residents who had taken refuge at a community shelter in Noordhoek have now returned to their homes.

At least 13 homes were affected, three of them completely razed to the ground.

Manager at the community centre, Athos Rushovitch says a light drizzle and slow winds have brought much needed relief.

"Through the course of Wednesday it was really a function of containing the fire, beating back little flare-ups but everybody is back at their houses. In the Noordhoek valley itself, we only lost one house."

Image: Aletta Gardner/EWN

At the same time, the City of Cape Town says it's spent about R1 million a day on firefighting efforts on the Southern Peninsula.

Fire and Rescue Services, Disaster Management, Metro Police and traffic officials have all been on-duty around the clock since the weekend.

The city's Richard Bosman says the resources which have been plowed into their operations are immense.

"We're looking at an average of R1 million a day for the last couple of days. We've spent a couple of hundred thousand rands a day on helicopters, so we're looking at costs in terms of staff on duty and staff off duty, vehicle costs and that."

WATCH: Fire guts Cape Town properties

Firefighters from other provinces were also brought into the Western Cape this week to bolster efforts to contain the fire, which has been described as the worst in years.

A brief lull in the wind allowed overnight teams the opportunity to bring some of the fires in Tokai and Clovelly under control.

Fire and Rescue's Theo Layne says five days into the massive operation, there are no reports of serious injuries, despite the fierce heat and very dangerous conditions.

"This morning we were on about between 4,000 and 4,500 hectares but because of the slow spread of the fire, we've now estimated it to be at about 5,000 hectares. There is some damage to residential properties."

WATCH: Inside the flames: EWN joins the firefighters

The Table Mountain National Park says it will take months to restore damaged infrastructure.

The park's Paddy Gordon says they're not too concerned about the vegetation that's burnt on the mountain slopes.

"Fynbos we know will burn, it's adapted to burn and it will recover. It's going to look a bit bleak for a year or two but it will recover."

Gordon however says it will take months to repair facilities that have been damaged.

"We're going to have to ask people to be patient with us for a little while; foot paths, roads and boardwalks would have been damaged in the fire, we're going to have to rebuild it all."

WATCH: Firefighters gain control over Cape blaze

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