Sat, 17 Apr 2021

  • A fire in the Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch is "still out of control", says Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning MEC Anton Bredell.
  • The fire started in strong winds on Thursday, and is expected to continue over the weekend.
  • The elderly, frail, and those with co-morbidities, such as asthma, and young children are advised to leave the area until conditions improve.

A fire raging in the Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch is still out of control.

The fire is expected to continue over the weekend, said Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell.

The elderly, frail, young children, and those with co-morbidities, such as asthma, were advised to consider leaving the area until conditions improve.

In a statement, Bredell said the conditions remained, "... very difficult with small chance of improvement over the next two days".

"The total area that has been burned including the Overberg side is 8 250 hectares at lunch time today [on Friday]. Additional resources have been deployed and the number of firefighters on the ground now total 236. There are 22 fire fighting vehicles deployed and four fire-bombing helicopters, two Hueys, one Airforce Oryx and one Blackhawk."

fire, jonkeshoek fireJonkershoek Valley fire. Dewald Koenfire, jonkershoek valleyJonkershoek Valley fire. Dewald Koenfire, jonkershoekJonkershoek Valley fire. Dewald Koen

PICS | Fire rages behind mountains in Stellenbosch

Bredell, however, said there was no need for evacuations at the moment but also urged members of the public living in the affected area to, "... pack a bag with necessities and to be on standby overnight should the circumstances change.

"The authorities on the ground will inform all members of the public immediately should the situation get more serious and people need to be evacuated. This is currently not necessary, and all efforts are being undertaken to avoid the situation from occurring."

According to the statement, high winds and poor visibility, due to smoke, delayed the early deployment of aerial resources. However, circumstances now allowed for limited flying.

"This will only continue while the conditions allow it."

Firefighting activities will continue throughout the night.

A pall of thick smoke created an orange glow in the sky as more than 100 firefighters, supported by aerial teams, worked to put it out, News24 earlier reported.

The fire is being fanned by strong winds.

Cape Winelands District Municipality spokesperson Jo-Anne Otto said the orange glow in the sky was caused by a combination of dry fynbos and vegetation that had a high oil content and ash.

The Stellenbosch Municipality urged Jonkershoek residents to co-operate with officials if they arrived at their properties as the fire moved through dry and brittle vegetation.

"Should you feel threatened and wish to leave your home, please secure your home, but leave all gates open," the municipality said in an urgent public announcement on Facebook.

The Cape Winelands District Municipality's Fire Services, CapeNature, Overberg District Municipality and Fire Protection Association are part of the team trying to bring it under control.

Source: News24

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