Yesterday, Monday 26 December 2016 at around 12h56, the fire which occurred became wide spread and difficult to contain, due to terrain, access , slopes and dry windy conditions assisting in the spread and development. Aerial resources were called in and unfortunately it was spotted from the air that “small little fires” were developing in areas not concurrent to spread and development. It is reported the random little fires were set. This making the task to contain one side of a developing fire more difficult and these new fires were developing and spreading. Fire crews and members from Fire Management Units together with the support of aerial resources were able to divert initial attack to safeguard property and houses on the lower belt of structures (formal and informal).
By 14h00 the northern side of the “structures that were threatened were made safe and, objectives could again be directed to the spreading fire North West flank in valleys before the Wittedrift Green Valley community. As the area is still inaccessible for safe operations, aerial support continued to bomb the line. Proactively fire services have implemented fire breaks where possible as terrain in which machinery operates is limited. A ground team will be called in to support fire crews on smouldering lines whilst access and fire fighting around structures remain priority.
By 19h00 initial threats were contained, however with cold front looming with a bit of rain, the concern of raised wind speeds and directional changes, ultimately change action plans and deployment strategies. The Bitou Public Safety Section is actively involved in the operations from law enforcement investigating the set fires in area, controlling access to fire ground and traffic services patrolling N2 and main routes to keep motorists from stopping and taking pictures and making video clips which create concerns for accidents and stretch resources on fire services further.
With the area recently having a major mountainous bush fire, this should be seen as the results of the hot , dry and windy conditions which are favourable for the spread and development of runaway veld fires. The fire department has advertised rural fire prevention and safety and urge landowners to play active role on their property to ensure access is possible , that fire breaks are in place and that basic fire fighting equipment is in place to make an initial attempt to extinguish if able to.
Likewise in fire prevention and safety, the learn not to burn programme has been introduced to schools and trust that children will refrain from “playing with fire” as the damages, risks and hazards that follow can lead to loss of life and property when fires become out of control. hence the saying ”spreads like wild fire”Last published 30 November 2018