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Four homes ravaged by Overstrand wildfire

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Residents of the pristine wilderness areas of Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay in the Overstrand Municipality remain on tenterhooks as a massive wildfire continues to burn. The community of Pringle Bay was evacuated urgently on Tuesday. Four houses were destroyed. This is one of five major fires spread out across the Western Cape, barely close to the middle the province’s fire season.

Hangklip is an iconic landmark of Pringle Bay. For decades, the fynbos in this area remained untouched by fire. Every 12 to 15 years, this indigenous vegetation must burn in order to fully regenerate.

On Tuesday however, a blaze fueled by strong wind, coupled with the dense vegetation, created a massive fire. At the last count, four homes were gutted.

By Wednesday morning, the community returned to their homes. Hangklip is now barren as the fire slowly makes its way towards Betty’s Bay. A precautionary evacuation order is in place for residents.

“It could take another two days to get the fire under control,” Dean O’Neill, Manager: Overstrand Municipality.

At the launch of the fire season readiness campaign, the provincial authorities expressed deep concern. Following two major floods, the increasingly dense vegetation posed a risk.

Combined with strong wind and very hot temperatures, it could act as fuel and fires could quickly burn out of control. Alien vegetation added to concerns, as the impact of global warming has seen fires burning hotter and faster than ever before.

“A global warming summit will be called in the province to discuss how to rebuild and plan following major environmental events,” says Anton Bredell, MEC: Environmental Affairs.

Municipalities across the province have memorandums of understanding in place to assist each other. More than 90 % of all fires are caused by human activity and the public is urged once more to be extremely cautious when making or working with fire.

Video: Residents in Pringle Bay evacuated due to a wildfire

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