After battling raging fires in Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch since Monday afternoon, firefighters tonight thought they had managed to douse most of the flames and successfully contain the fire…but latest reports reveal that the fire is spreading.
Christine De Villiers, who lives in the area, wrote to SAPeople late tonight saying “Sad news. The wind has blown the fire from Jonkershoek over the mountain to the Helderberg area! I live in Somerset West and see the fire coming our way!” (See photo below.)
Christine reports that the flames are a little less high now (at 00:45, Wednesday morning) but spread over a larger area.
In the last hour Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) have also released the following update on the current situation in Jonkershoek:
“The head of the fire is currently being pushed in the direction of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve gate. PLEASE AVOID JONKERSHOEK ROAD AND ALLOW EMERGENCY VEHICLES ACCESS TO THE SCENE. Fire crews from Stellenbosch Municipality, Cape Winelands, Cape Pine, Working on Fire, Volunteer Wildfire Services and contractors currently on scene. Please contact Lisa @ 079 972 0554 if you wish to assist with donations.”
Update 2 am (SA Time): Laetitia Meyer took the following photo in the early hours of Wednesday morning – “Fire still raging in the Jonkershoek Valley at 2:00 am. Going up the mountain but still a big danger to the Valley itself.”
Latest Update from VWS: 3 am (SA Time): “#JonkershoekFire – Fire crews remain on duty throughout the night, as the fire line approaches and on structural protection. Additional resources have been called in to assist.”
Earlier today firefighting spokesman Jaco Thysma told the SABC News “we are not in control of all the sectors yet, but it’s not raging away.”
At that point the wind conditions were mild and it was predicted they would stay that way.
Firefighters were due to continue to monitor pockets of smoke in the Boland area over the following 48 hours, by which time they hoped to totally extinguish it. This latest blaze was not expected.
Over 150 firefighters, many of whom are volunteers, were deployed to Jonkershoek Nature Reserve on Monday to battle the runaway fire which by Tuesday had destroyed approximately 1,000 hectares of veld.
Western Cape firefighters have been kept extremely busy during this fire season, particularly with last week’s South Peninsula fires which destroyed 5,000 hectares of veld and fynbos.
The City of Cape Town has assured residents that “appropriate steps are being taken to prevent mudslides and rock falls in the areas that were recently destabilised by last week’s veld fires in the southern peninsula. Fires such as these damage the vegetation that plays an important role in holding mountain soil in place, which can leave roads and homes on the mountain vulnerable to rock and mud slides during periods of heavy rain.”
In the meantime, two tribute songs have been written about the #CapeFires:
#CapeFire Tribute Song – David & Goliath by Jenny Eaves
“This song is written about the recent fires in the Deep South, my home. All photos by Gale McAll with permission, apart from photo 1 I cannot find the photographer, if you know them please put me in contact with them, I want to say thank you :)”
She Will Remember – CapeFire Tribute by Jonathan Simons
“This is a tribute to the bravery and courage of every single person involved in the beautifully combined effort to quell the embers and stop the monstrous fire that has affected so many people’s lives. The full song will be released on iTunes and all profit on sales will be donated to the Firefighters. I really want to be able to give as much as possible so please share the love around!”