NEWS

Cape Firefighters Battled 106 Blazes ... In Just One Day

On Wednesday that fires in Somerset West had burnt down 3,500 hectares.

06/01/2017 12:14 SAST | Updated 06/01/2017 12:55 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Firefighters spray embers to prevent a flare up of a bushfire that burnt several houses and threatened vineyards in Somerset West, near Cape Town, South Africa January 4, 2017.

The City of Cape Town says firefighters fought more than 100 fires around the city - in just one day.

On Tuesday, 106 fires had blazed around the city, it said in a statement.

"On just one day, 3 January 2017, firefighters battled 106 fires which ranged from small grass fires to the devastating mountain fire in Somerset West."

News24 reported on Wednesday that fires in Somerset West had burnt down 3,500ha in the Helderberg Mountains, damaging 40 percent of the award-winning Vergelegen wine farm.

Firefighters battle Somerset West fires

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith also said that seven people have drowned since January 1, compared to 13 for the same period in 2016.

"Although the number of drowning incidents is just more than half that in the previous year, it remains a concern. While we will look at each incident to determine the factors that may have played a role, we have noticed a similar trend to previous incidents," Smith said.

Earlier, News24 reported that the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) recorded 37 drownings in South African oceans since December. In a statement, it said the organisation had saved 193 lives in December and responded to 132 incidents.

Smith said that fewer people than usual visited Cape Town beaches on New Year's Day.

"While we usually see a massive spike in visitor numbers to the beaches on priority days, like the Day of Goodwill and New Year's Day, this season has seen slightly fewer visitors on these days, compared with previous years. On New Year's Day, 150,000 people visited the beaches, with Muizenberg Beach being the busiest," Smith said. -- News24

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