Fine weather forecast is good news for Cape Town’s firefighters

Weather Service forecaster Henning Grobler said things were finally looking up for firefighters who had been battling fires since Sunday.

Firefighting teams dampen smouldering vegetation, finally getting a fierce forest fire under control on the foothills of Table Mountain in Cape Town on 19 April 2021. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

CAPE TOWN - The weather outlook bodes well for firefighting efforts on Table Mountain.

Windy conditions had grounded aerial support for two days, but since Tuesday morning water-bombing helicopters have been in the air.

A fire broke out on Sunday morning and by the afternoon, residents in the surrounding areas and students at the University of Cape Town had to be evacuated.

READ: Cape Town resident describes catching Table Mountain arson suspect in the act

At this stage the fire is largely contained.

Weather Service forecaster Henning Grobler said things were finally looking up for firefighters.

“There’s been quite a change in weather conditions between yesterday and today. Today we have seen fine weather conditions persisting. The wind has calmed down. There is almost no wind outside.”

The South Easter might be slightly stronger tomorrow, but nothing too concerning.

“I don’t foresee any problems weather-wise with all the fires going around, so I think they need to use the time today to kill the fires and get it over and done with,” said Grobler.

READ: Cape Town residents evacuated from fire-threatened homes now allowed to return

Working on Fire’s Melany Duthie-Surtie said the fire has been largely contained.

“There are a lot of hotspots within the burned area and with a little bit of a breeze, it can ignite and create a flame.

"However, there’s no need to be alarmed. Our firefighters are on site and they will attend to all flare-ups.”

Thick smoke has blanketed large parts of the city bowl this week, while the strong wind has blown bits of debris and soot in the air.

HELPING HANDS

Businesses and civil society have been applauded for their efforts to assist those impacted by the Table Mountain fire.
The Western Cape Department of Finance and Economic Opportunities has thanked Cape Town businesses - especially those in the tourism and hospitality industry - for having stepped up to assist those affected by the fire.

It said through the co-ordination efforts of FEDHASA and Ubuntu Beds, more than 29 accommodation businesses provided 560 rooms to almost 1,000 UCT students on Sunday and the support would continue until they were able to return to their residences.

On Monday, the university indicated all the evacuated students are safe.

The Gift of the Givers and hospital heroes have also come onboard by helping to distribute thousands of meals to those affected.

Several restaurants and fast-food outlets are also providing meals to students.

The department said these were but a few examples of the many impressive efforts made by the private sector, many of whom had been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and yet were showing great initiative to support firefighters and those displaced by the blaze.

It's also lauded hundreds of volunteers who've given up their time to assist.

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