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Weather helps douse most WC fires

Disaster management says the human element always plays a big role in vegetation fires.

A fire in Franschhoek destroyed thousand of hectares of vegetation, damaged property and caused many to evacuate their homes. 29 January 2012. Picture: Jaco Bah via Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Disaster Management on Thursday said human negligence or even arson could be behind a rash of wildfires across the province.

Thousands of hectares of vegetation has been destroyed by blazes in the Cape Winelands between Paarl and Franschhoek.

Disaster management chief director Colin Deiner said human error is usually behind vegetation fires.

"From past experience, 70 percent of fires are caused by humans, whether it is by accident or arson. The human element always plays a big part."

WEATHER ASSISTANCE

Meanwhile, millions have been spent on firefighting operations in recent days.

Since last week Wednesday, there have been around 60 vegetation fires around Cape Town alone.

As cooler weather conditions played into the hands of firefighters on Wednesday, the fires in Cape Town, Overberg, Overstrand, Cape Winelands, Cedarberg, Walker Bay and Stanford were all brought under control.

However, blazes in the Wemmershoek Mountains near Franschhoek which started on Sunday, have still not been extinguished.

Deiner said properties and lives were not in danger and added fire officials will remain on high alert nonetheless.

"The fire is burning along the mountain slopes and we are concerned the wind is going to pick up."

More firefighters have been sent to the province to help with the operation.

The exact cause of the fires is yet to be determined.