Seven Days, Eight Call Outs

Seven days, seven call outs would have would been a catchy title but that was not the case last week as VWS was called out to more fires than there were days in the week. It turned out to be one of the busiest weeks so far this season for the VWS with all three stations being involved in the multitude of call outs with Jonkershoek station assisting CapeNature with four calls and combined Newlands / South Peninsula teams responding to four requests for help from Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).

In a busy week, with many more fires than just those we responded to, the VWS was a vital resources for both CapeNature and TMNP as resources were stretched very thin by the weekend. Other fires also raged in Gordon’s Bay and Grabouw which kept other fire departments hands full.

The VWS week started in Vredehoek below the slopes of Table Mountain with the wildfire threatening homes before it headed up a deep steep-sided gully that put teams to the test on many fronts – thankfully, due to the quick response of all parties, no homes were lost and no one was injured. Next Jonkershoek station were called into action for the next three days for fires in Wemmershoek area (two) and Simonsberg with all teams assisting with containing and mopping up the respective fires until late into the night.

But the most noticeable fire for Cape Town residents was the Signal Hill fire that was caught by a howling South-Easter and raced up to the top of the hill in no time despite the best efforts of all teams – but it was the ground crews and chopper pilots who had the last say as the fire was contained there. As the light faded the mountain was aglow with hot spots. Our crews spent many hours securing the lines into the early morning.

The week was topped of by just as busy a weekend with all four stand by crews required to respond to fires. It was through this quick intervention assisting TMNP that two fires where kept small in Ocean View and, with helicopter assistance by the Working on Fire helicopters, on the slopes above Hout Bay.

A big thank you must go out to the volunteers who responded to the calls – your dedication to holding the line between fire and fynbos is what helps saves homes and our natural heritage. During this last week VWS volunteers had contributed over 5000 hours to fighting wildfires this season alone – a great achievement but also a sign of the need for the VWS volunteers and things to come.