Premier Alan Winde visited a mobile disaster management incident command centre near Wolseley yesterday, 29 January, where he received a briefing on efforts to bring a series of wildfires in the Cape Winelands district and surrounds under control.
The fires have been raging for more than a week. High temperatures and strong winds are fueling the flames. 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 has burned, the Premier is relieved there has been no loss of life. But 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 sector working together round 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,” he said.
Premier Winde told a group of firefighters who had come off the line for a break having worked throughout Sunday evening, “You are heroes. You make us all very proud!”
Firefighter, Musa Kalipa, is facing his first fire season. He said, “I love my job because it allows me to help the community. I also love nature and want to help protect our environment.”
According to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), there have been more than 4 000 fires across the Western Cape this summer so far. The vast majority have been recorded in the Cape Town municipality.
The Premier urged the public in fire-affected regions to heed the advice of officials and to be vigilant amid the fires. He concluded, “There can be no doubt that climate change is a major factor. That is why the Western Cape Government (WCG) 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.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.