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‘Public’s help critical in fighting Western Cape wildfires’

"If the veld catches alight and the wind takes the flames, the results can be devastating."
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The Western Cape government has 21 aircraft on standby to tackle wildfires across the province in the coming months.

Anton Bredell, the Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, said the aircraft include nine water bombing helicopters, four water bombing airplanes and eight spotter command and control aircraft that can be deployed using 36 runways prepared across the Western Cape province.

Bredell said every year the fire season seems to be getting worse and conditions across the province are still hazardous in many areas following the devastating drought that caused brush and veld to die.

“If the veld catches alight and the wind takes the flames, the results can be devastating.”

Bredell said all firefighting efforts remain collaborative, with the province co-ordinating the response from the provincial disaster management center in Tygerberg.

The province has critical partners without whom they would be incapacitated. These partners include Working on Fire, the City of Cape Town’s Fire Services, and various district municipality fire services, SANParks, CapeNature, the volunteer firefighters and various fire protection associations.

The aerial resources will be complemented by 1 550 municipal firefighters across the province, bolstered by more than 1 000 seasonal firefighters and other organisations.

There are also 24 Working on Fire (WoF) teams ,with about 830 firefighters, in the Western Cape and an additional 500 firefighters in other provinces who can be called upon if required.

Bredell has also stated that the public’s help is critical and called on visitors and residents of the Western Cape to act quickly and responsibly to prevent fires and when seeing fires.

The MEC said early fire warnings remain critical to controlling fires quickly. When a fire does break out, getting control over it as quickly as possible is vital.

Bredell advised the public to report fires immediately and not to assume they have been reported.

When reporting fires in the Western Cape, please contact your Local District Municipality:

* City of Cape Town – 107 or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone

* Overberg – 028 425 1690

* West Coast – 022 433 8700

* Eden – 044 805 5071

* Central Karoo – 023 414 2603

* Cape Winelands – 021 887 4446

Bredell thanked the various emergency services officials and volunteers for being prepared to risk their lives in keeping others safe.

More: Cape Argus

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