Winde thanks roleplayers battling wildfires around the Cape Winelands

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde visited a mobile disaster management incident command centre near Wolseley on Monday after wildfires erupted in the Cape Winelands district and surrounding areas. 

The fires have been raging for over a week, with high temperatures and strong winds fuelling the flames.  

Affected areas include Hangklip, Buffeljags Bay, Karwyderskraal and Grabouw.

According to the Premier’s Office, fire teams in the Breede Valley and Witzenberg areas were given a slight reprieve on Sunday evening as temperatures dipped and winds subsided. 

“But that was unfortunately short-lived. Winds picked up again compounding the already difficult situation.”

Despite the thousands of hectares of land that have burned, the Premier said he was relieved there has been no loss of life. 

However, he said he remained very concerned about the situation generally. 

“Fires are volatile and unpredictable. Coupled with the hot, windy weather, these fires have stretched our emergency teams to their limit. But I have all the confidence in our entire disaster management network to eventually bring the blaze under control, with officials in the public and private sectors working together around the clock to protect lives and infrastructure.

“Our disaster management staff have gone from floods to fires and I know the significant toll that it takes on our dedicated staff and all the volunteers who always step up,” Winde said. 

Winde has described as "heroes" a group of firefighters who had come off the line for a break, having worked throughout Sunday evening.  

“You make us all very proud,” he told the firefighters. 

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), there have been more than 4 000 fires across the Western Cape this summer, of which the vast majority have been recorded in Cape Town. 

The Premier urged the public in fire-affected regions to heed the advice of officials and be vigilant. 

“There can be no doubt that climate change is a major factor. That is why the Western Cape government is taking this crisis extremely seriously by planning accordingly for the future and by building up the resilience of our province. We are doing all we can to enable the private sector to pivot to renewable energy to help mitigate the climate crisis,” he stressed.

City of Cape Town's Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, announced this morning that the fire line in Hangklip was completely extinguished. 

“All our firefighters are safe and accounted for. There are no injuries and no damages to any of our vehicles or equipment,” Smith explained. –