April's Table Mountain fire did not start naturally, investigation finds

Independent investigator Rob Erasmus said that his probe found that the fire did not start naturally or accidentally.

Firefighters leave an area where the flames become too aggressive, as a forest fire burns out of control on the foothills of Table Mountain, above the University of Cape Town, in Cape Town, on 18 April 2021. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

CAPE TOWN - An independent probe into fire that tore across parts of Cape Town in April has concluded that the blaze was intentionally started.

SANParks appointed Enviro Wildfire Services to investigate the cause of the blaze.

Independent investigator Rob Erasmus said that his probe found that the fire did not start naturally or accidentally.

He was able to reconstruct the early stages of the fire using photos from social media.

These included pictures taken by hikers, mountain bikers, someone who was on a flight around the Cape Peninsula and footage from CCTV cameras.

Erasmus said that footage showed a vehicle pulling off onto the shoulder of the road, it proceeded to drive very slowly until it reached a point close to where the fire had originated.

"Without stopping the vehicle then continued driving back on the shoulder of the road and then proceeded down Nelson Mandela Drive and within two minutes there was smoke. We have reason to believe that the vehicle is potentially associated with the fire," Erasmus said.

He said that officials were unfortunately unable to determine the vehicle's registration number.

The City of Cape Town was now looking at offering a reward in exchange for information that could lead to an arrest.

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