SAWestern Cape counting the cost of four-day Kleinmond wildfire
─── 09:15 Thu, 13 Jan 2022
The Western Cape government is counting the cost of the wildfire in Kleinmond that razed around 5 400 hectares of land.
Some of the damaged land was on commercial farms where fynbos was grown, said Western Cape MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell.
"In the end, more than 5 400ha of fynbos and pine plantations were burned, one building was destroyed, and preliminary agricultural damages include 10ha of commercial fynbos," said Bredell.
Mop-up operations got under way on Wednesday after around 95% of the fire was contained, said Overstand Mayor Annelie Rabie.
On Wednesday, firefighters responded to three flare-ups: two above Heuningkloof and the other along the R43. The flare-ups were contained.
"Embers carried by the wind and blown around remain problematic, and therefore the fire is not 100% contained," said Rabie.
"Mopping up and monitoring will continue for the next few weeks as some areas of dense alien vegetation will continue to smoulder," Bredell said.
The fire broke out in the Western Cape coastal town on Saturday and caused the closure of the R44 while threatening the luxury Arabella Hotel, Golf and Spa.
More than 200 firefighters battled the wildfire for four days, with the fire eventually being brought under control on Tuesday.
The fire started in Highlands in an old pine plantation of the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs. According to Rabie, the plantations remain a hotspot area.
The province is now counting the cost of the four-day firefighting effort.
"We are now investigating the cause of the fire and will do an estimate of the total damages and costs accrued during the operation. We were extremely fortunate this time that no human life was lost, which is always the number one priority during these operations," Bredell said.
The Western Cape is in the midst of its fire season, which takes place during the hot, dry and windy summer months, and, on average, sees between 17 000 and 20 000 fires each year.
Bredell said human actions were the number one cause of wildfires, and as such, he urged people to be responsible and careful when dealing with fires.
"It would be sad to know that all the resources, time, money and risk to personnel, as well as the destruction of thousands of hectares of land, could have been prevented through different human behaviour," he said.