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Cape fires cause mass devastation to hectares of vegetation

Fires that broke out in Muizenberg on Sunday have spread to further parts of the Southern Peninsula.

Cape Town fire trucks on Chapman's Peak trying to stop the fire from spreading towards Hout Bay. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Disaster officials have been working around the clock fighting fires in the Southern Peninsula.

Hundreds of firefighters have spent the past two days battling blazes in the region, which have laid waste to thousands of hectares of vegetation while a number of houses have also been damaged.

Helicopters are now water bombing hotspots and the fires have now spread to Hout Bay.

The City of Cape Town's Disaster Risk Management's Mandy Thomas says, "Firefighter crews are on the scene, we've also got four helicopters on the scene for water bombing."

The blazes have spread from Boyes Drive in Muizenberg all the way to the Sun Valley area.

NSRI JOINS THE FIGHT

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has also joined emergency teams in their firefighting efforts.

The organisation's base at Hout Bay Harbour is being used as a joint operations centre.

The NSRI's Craig Lambinon says, "The NSRI continues to assist using the base as a dock for both evacuees as a mustering point and for rotating firemen."

Dozens of people also had to evacuate their homes as a precaution as flames came dangerously close to their properties.

As many as 40 families were evacuated from the Stonehurst Estate during the early hours of this morning after a runaway veld fire threatened their properties.

Thick plumes of smoke hang in the air as firefighters try to push back the flames.

The sounds of sirens drown out the fierce crackling of burning vegetation while the stench thickens the air.

The wind has become very strong on Chapman's Peak, fanning flames which are heading to Hout Bay. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

Authorities say the fires have been contained but it could take up to two days before completely extinguished.

Firefighters along Boyes Drive have been feverishly battling the fires but had to stop to replenish water tanks.

Veld fire rages on Lakeside, close to Boyes Drive on 2 March 2015. Picture: Samantha van der Merwe

The fires have also threatened the luxury Tintswalo Lodge in Hout Bay.

The premises had to be evacuated this morning.

The lodge's Lisa Goosen says, "We had to evacuate all of our guests and staff some time during the night. In the early hours of the morning the flames swept through the buildings but we don't know the extent of the damage thus far."

Meanwhile, Working on Fire's Philip Prins says many Capetonians have been generous in donating food and water to exhausted fire crews.

"I would like to thank the Capetonians because they've been very generous by making us food and refreshments. We just want to say thank you very much as this fire is going to keep us busy for at least the next week."

Smoke billows over the mountains in Hout Bay. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

Thank you Thank you Thank you to the amazing people we call firefighters #capefire #FireFighters #CapeTownFire #MuizenbergFire

Thank you so much to all firefighters, helicopter pilots & volunteers #MuizenbergFire #capefire #StonehurstEstate pic.twitter.com/alMywWTDrU

Would love to know what started this #MuizenbergFire #CapeFire.

#Capefire #MuizenbergFire #CTFires Chapman's Peak engulfed pic.twitter.com/3GtnG3ly9U

LOCALS AFFECTED

Locals say it's been a stressful few hours.

"I'm watching these huge flames which are terribly close to my house. I am actually quite frightened."

"It's really scary, the flames are still high and the situation is dire."

Firefighter battles veld fire on Boyes Drive on 2 March 2015. Picture: Elizabeth Ann Von Hollstein

At the same time, a Noordhoek resident says onlookers are hampering firefighting operations.

"If you're not actively involved in saving your property or assisting then please, this is not the time for spectators."

Ou Kaapse Weg and Chapman's Peak Drive have also been closed to traffic have been closed to traffic.

The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.

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