#BettysBayFire and #KogelBayFire/ Unified Command press release 8/1/19
Herewith the FULL statement as approved by Overstrand Municipality, CapeNature and Overberg District Municipality. A “Word” version is available, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for the late release…and thank you to #NatalieMalgas for the live interview. Tomorrow we will share more info in the ecological losses and as early as possible an update of the progress from late afternoon and tonight.
#BettysBayFire and #KogelBayFire: Media Release
Reporting period: 7/1/19 18:00 to 8/1/19 at 15:00
The objectives of this media statement is to give feedback and information on:
1) Important information
a) Overall status: 80% contained with two active fire lines and huge amount of mop up to be done to ensure no flare up occurs.
b) The past 24h no further injuries or structure losses have been reported.
c) 8270ha burned
d) The R44: Please note – traffic officials are stopping, and where possible, diverting traffic at the R44 turnoff towards Kleinmond (close to the Arabella Country Estate). This is to divert cars intending to travel through to Gordons Bay. But motorists still have access to Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay and Rooi Els on the R44.
e) Also to note is that all our fighters working on the lines are looked after as per each organizational standards. No fire fighter or support staff will be deployed or gets deployed without the minimum required rest period and nutrition.
g) Status of the fire
– Kogel Bay Fire – Division E
The fire has moved into the Steenbras catchment and burning actively. All efforts focused to stop the further spread of this line into the Steenbras catchment within the City of Cape Town’s boundaries. The City confirmed currently no structure or communities are threatened.
– Betty’s Bay
From 09:00 a major flare-up, again, in the Disa Gorge with risk of spread to Harold Porter Botanical Garden. Specialist teams with aerial support contained the flare-up and continue working the long line on Platberg.
– The Betty’s Bay interface with semi-rural/urban boundary is out and been out for 24 hours.
– Lines from Betty’s Bay to Rooi Els (Divisions’ B, C & F) are still cold (more than 48h). Fire services are monitoring these areas.
h) Resources deployed today
a. 92 fire fighters
b. Several Fire tenders, command and support vehicles
c. 6 Choppers – 3 City of Cape Town (Working on Fire resources) and 3 Overstrand (Cape Winelands resources)
d. Working on Fire Spotter
e. 2 Working on Fire Fixed Wing bombers
i) Agencies involved
a. Overstrand Municipality
b. Overberg District Municipality
c. City of Cape Town
e. Working on Fire
f. NCC Environmental Services
g. Volunteer Wildfire Services
h. Greater Overberg FPA
i. Limitless Fire and Winelands FPA
j. Cape Winelands
k. Betty’s Bay Community Volunteer Fire Fighters
l. Pringle Bay Community Volunteer Fire Fighters
m. Overstrand Municipal Councilors
n. Various NGOs and other public support organisation
Also assisted earlier:
a) Helderberg Fire Watch
b) Overberg Wildfire Volunteers
c) Gordon’s Bay Fire Watch
a. 2 structures damage confirmed
b. 1 fire tender
We’re counting the cost of the #BettysBayFire – not only on lives, but also the impact on nature.
The Kogelberg Nature Reserve Complex is covered in critically endangered Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos – and more than 8000 hectares have burnt already. The Kogelberg Nature Reserve Fynbos should burn every 17 years. The Fynbos burning now is only between 8 and 12 years old. This is devastating for Fynbos species, and their ability to recover.
Like the Vulnerable Marsh Rose (Orothamnus zeyheri) – once nearly extinct. Today it’s known from just 6 populations – most in the Kogelberg Mountains, and most affected by this fire.
Fynbos is a fire-adapted vegetation and is dependent on appropriate fires for its survival. Fire drives this cycle, and at appropriate intervals it stimulates re-sprouting and seedling recruitment which leads to better species diversity. An increase in fire frequency causes the structure and composition of fynbos to change and subsequently the potential loss of species.
The Boland Mountain Complex is classified as a strategic water source area, it provides good quality water for the Cape Metropolitan Area. Intense and too frequent fires can decrease the rate of infiltration by destroying the litter and organic layers in the soil resulting in run-off and less water entering the dams
k) Explanation of the risk of the remaining active fire lines
This risk is based on a predicated wind direction change, which if not contained by Wednesday night, will drive the fire back in a fuel rich environment which makes containment extremely difficult and challenging. The result of such a spread will lead to further ecological damage, threat to the agricultural area in the Elgin basin and Steenbras Dam plantation.