The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Working on Fire programme, has deployed close to 300 fire-fighters and pilots to help manage fires across South Africa. They have been hard at work during the past few weeks fighting four major fires in the Overberg district of the Western Cape.

The department urges communities to be more vigilant during the fire season and not to start unnecessary fires, particularly on windy days, this summer. People are also asked to remove unnecessary rubble from their properties since it can pose a serious fire risk. Home-owners bordering on grassland areas must ensure that there are sufficiently wide firebreaks between their properties and these grasslands.

Cut away and remove overhanging tree branches close to homes and properties, and clean leaf debris from gutters, as this can also pose a fire risk. People should keep the contact details of their local fire authorities at hand in case of a fire emergency.

Landowners must clear invasive alien vegetation which continues to pose significant fire risks in dry conditions in the Western Cape. These invasive plants burn at very high temperatures and when fuelled by strong winds and hot weather conditions can cause significant and long-term ecological damage and prevent regrowth of the indigenous vegetation.

The Working on Fire programme in the Western Cape has 700 firefighters stationed at 27 bases to support provincial, district and local fire authorities and a further 500 firefighters on national standby to be deployed to the Western Cape. Currently about 100 firefighters from the Free State have been deployed in the Western Cape since December 2018, and a further 49 firefighters from other provinces are assisting in the Table Mountain National Park. – Department of Environment Affairs