12 January 2017
Statement by Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell.
Extreme weather conditions have contributed to huge fires across the Western Cape over the past four weeks. Firefighting entities are currently working hard to extinguish the various fires still burning.
Hot spots remain under continued surveillance and the disaster management centre remains on high alert.
Anton Bredell, the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, says fires raging across the province are being adversely affected by strong wind.
“As predicted, this season is proving to be very tough. Conditions are harsh with high wind speed and very dry conditions making many areas vulnerable to runaway fires. Firefighting crews are working under very difficult conditions including extreme temperatures often in excess of 40 degrees Celsius.”
Colin Deiner, head of Disaster Management in the Western Cape says three areas of particular concern at present is the Cape Town Peninsula, the Cape Winelands and the West Coast districts.
“The reality is that we expect the fire season risk to continue for at least another three months. We are hopeful that conditions will improve over the period.”
Bredell has thanked the firefighters for the incredible efforts to date.
“There can be no doubt about the continued resolve and commitment by these incredible men and women battling these harsh situations. We would have been in deep trouble if not for them.”
Bredell says firefighting entities cannot do the job of fighting fires alone.
“We need everyone’s help. Fires can be prevented but where this is not possible, early fire warnings and communication remain critical to controlling fires quickly. When a fire does break out, remember that getting control over it as quickly as possible is vital. If we can get to a fire within the first hour the possibility of a major incident is minimized.”
The Minister advises the public to report fires immediately and not to assume it has been reported.
When reporting fires, 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
The WCDMC has the following tips to help keep families safe from fire:
What if a Fire breaks out in my home?
· Warn people inside the house to get out safely.
· Help people to get out and stay out of harm's way.
· If there is a lot of smoke, crawl out below the smoke to escape the fire.
· Where possible, have more than one exit from your house, with clear routes to the door.
Safety around an Open Flame
· Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach.
· Cut candles in half to prevent them falling over and use a candle holder.
· Never leave an open fire – for example around a braai - unattended.
· Do not let open fires – for example a braai - get too big and out of control.
· Monitor weather conditions. If the wind is strong, rather put the fire out till the wind dies down.
General Safety tips
· Keep a well-maintained fire extinguisher in your house, and know how to use it.
· If you have no extinguisher, keep an empty bucket for water or a bucket of sand if possible, on hand.
· If you have a garden hose, keep it rolled up and ready in case of fire.
· Have an escape plan, and make sure that the whole family knows the plan.
· Do not park in the way of a fire hydrant (and remind your neighbours and visitors to do the same).
Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell
Mobile: 084 583 1670
Telephone: 021 483 2820