Two helicopters deployed to waterbomb fire on Table Mountain range

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Two helicopters have been deployed to waterbomb the fire at Skeleton Gorge on the Table Mountain range. The fire is one of five which broke out in the Table Mountain National Park over the weekend.

The fires resulted in guests at park accommodation being evacuated as a precaution. Gusting winds thwarted the use of helicopters.

Crews from the City of Cape Town, Volunteer Wildfire Services, and Table Mountain National Parks spent the weekend, bringing the flames under control.

Table Mountain National Park Integrated Fire Manager, Justin Buchmann, says there’s still active fire above Kirstenbosch on some of the steep slopes that are largely inaccessible.

“The first of the fires on Saturday morning was in the City Bowl and while we were dealing with that we had some unpredicted weather Saturday afternoon which resulted in those four lightning fires. One was in Silvermine. It was relatively insignificant; it was easy to contain and extinguish. However later that evening we had quite a significant fire in the Cape of Good Hope section, near Cape Point, which took us most of Saturday night, Sunday morning… and during that fire, we had a fire that flared up as a result of that lightning strike above Kirstenbosch.”

Helicopters have since been deployed to the area burning above Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Buchmann says their crews are still trying to contain the active fire.

“We still have active fire above Kirstenbosch on some of the steep slopes, that fire is largely inaccessible so at this stage we have to just wait and see and monitor. We still have crews on the back table who are actively dealing with hotspots and fire lines up there.

Kirstenbosch Estate Manager, Elton Roux says, “What prompted us to close the garden is that there was lots of ash and smoke and it’s obviously not healthy for our visitors that came through, and then we also needed to make it safe for the firefighters to come in to do what they needed to do. The danger of the fire was that the hiking trails would not be safe to use and [it] is the main reason and then also as I said previously the smoke in the air… with the north-westerly yesterday that was very strong and that was going into the garden, so it is a concern for infrastructure because some of our rooves are thatched.”

Table Mountain National Parks says no injuries have been reported.