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Helderberg fires: City investigates possibility of arson

An estimated 10,000 hectares of land was destroyed during a blaze that ripped through the Helderberg area last week.

Firefighters extinguish a fire in Helderberg on 4 January 2015. Picture: @CPFPA1

CAPE TOWN – Authorities believe some of the fires that raged across the province last week may have been started deliberately.

Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des Van Rooyen went to assess the fire damage in Somerset West on Monday.

An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the blaze.

An estimated 10,000 hectares of land was destroyed during a blaze that ripped through the Helderberg area last week.

The cost associated with the disaster is expected to rise to R60 million.

City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for Safety and Security JP Smith says arson is suspected in some of the more than 600 fires attended to since last Tuesday.

“We have a small investigative team in our special investigative unit that is working with the South African Police Service in investigating various bits of evidence that have come forward from witnesses and members of the public – looking at the source of the fire in Grabouw, looking at the fires that were started on this side.”

The Helderberg blaze has resulted in large scale damage to the infrastructure at wine farms like Vergelegen, Morgenster and Laurensford.

Firefighters are currently still attending to flare-ups in the area.

(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)