South African National Parks (SANParks) has expressed its gratitude and praise for the bravery and dedication of, amongst others, the firefighters, volunteers, City of Cape Town (CoCT) Fire, and Rescue Services and the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) rangers in their efforts to contain the fire that caused massive destruction after it started on Sunday, 18 April.
“The devastating fires across the TMNP have brought home the value of partnerships and working together as a community to manage this National park we all love. Without the collective efforts of the 125 TMNP rangers, the 170 fire and rescue workers, the South African National Defence Force, CoCT personnel, law enforcement and the many volunteers, the damage, as devastating as it was, could have been much worse,” says SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni.
“The immediacy of the reactions of fire-fighting teams from all areas of the Western Cape, their skill, courage and commitment ensured that the fire was mostly contained by Monday afternoon.”
The Rhodes Memorial Fire was reported at 09:00 AM on Sunday morning. TMNP/ contract wildfire crews (NCC Wildfire) from the Newlands Firebase were dispatched immediately. Philip Prins, TMNP Fire Manager, co-ordinated the firefighters on the line from TMNP, NCC Wildfires, Working on Fire, CoCT Fire and Rescue Services and Volunteer Wildfire Services. TMNP and the CoCT had four helicopters operating in the area.
The SA Air Force also made available two helicopters on Tuesday morning to assist with the fire. There are numerous other water tankers and firefighting vehicles on the scene managed between TMNP and the CoCT, said SANParks.
“We also thank our 120 rangers who manage and protect this vast area of more than 28,000 hectares, recognizing the many challenges they face. To manage an urban park stretching from Signal Hill to Cape Point, we rely heavily on our communities to assist, alert and raise the alarm on disasters like this, which is exactly what happened on Sunday morning,” says Mketeni.
SANParks also commended the generosity shown by the community of Cape Town to those firefighters and also to those most affected by the fire, perhaps most notably the 4,000 University of Cape Town students who had to be evacuated from their residences.
“The outpouring of support on an emotional level was matched if not surpassed by the generosity of donations of food, water and other necessities from businesses and communities,” concludes Mketeni.
SANParks estimates that the fire has destroyed 600 hectares of land in the TMNP thus far. A further statement on the effects of the fire will be made as details come to hand.
*Source of Cape Town fire:
An independent investigation is being carried out on the causes and the origin of the fire and information will be shared as soon as the report becomes available.
SANParks will facilitate a platform for a series of discussions on the complex topic of managing fire in the park.