S.African air force to help douse Table Mountain fire


The South African National Defence Force announced that it will send helicopters as soon as weather permits to help douse the raging wildfire in the iconic tourist destination and biodiversity hotspot Table Mountain, the Western Cape provincial government said.

The military’s air resources were activated on Monday and are on standby, while the operation hasn’t started due to the strong wind, Xinhua news agency quoted the provincial government as saying in a statement.

“As soon as the weather permits, the air force helicopters will be in the air,” it said, adding that the military’s Oryx chopper can carry a water payload of 2,000 litres per drop.

Over 250 firefighters from the City of Cape Town, Table Mountain National Park, are still working towards containing the fire, while Volunteer Wildfire Services remain on the ground, according to the province.

The fire is not under control, and strong wind is a major factor, the city municipality said, adding that the firefighting is concentrated in Vredehoek area, Philip Kgosana Drive and University of Cape Town (UCT), on the slopes of the Table Mountain.

Four firefighters have been injured and are receiving medical treatment, the city said.

Residences and schools in parts of Vredehoek have been evacuated.

South African National Parks (SANParks) estimated that roughly 400 hectares of wildland have been destroyed so far while the City of Cape Town has reported eight structures, including the historical Mostert’s Mill built around 1796 and four buildings on University of Cape Town campus, damaged or destroyed in the fire that broke out on Sunday morning.