22 Squadron douses fire in Camps Bay


Thick vegetation and a fire fanned by strong winds saw the firefighting abilities of the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) 22 Squadron called into action and tested on Wednesday near Cape Town.

The Squadron’s Oryx medium transport helicopters based at AFB Ysterplaat were called into action following a request from Western Cape disaster management authorities, Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, Staff Officer, Operational Communication, SANDF Joint Operations Division, told defenceWeb.
“The helicopters took off at 16h20 and 16h40 and both returned safely to base just before 19h00 after emptying 42 Bambi buckets in total onto the fire which was threatening a hotel on the Camps Bay side of Table Mountain,” he said.

The helicopters would have taken to the air earlier but strong and gusty wind conditions meant they would not have been able to fill the Bambi buckets, each of which carries just on two tons of water.
“As soon as the wind dropped to manageable speeds, the helicopters moved out and did what was needed,” he said.

A single Oryx was today tasked with firefighting duties and is on standby at the Cape Town air force base.

In January the squadron’s expertise was also needed when fires raged around Somerset West and Grabouw before spreading to Paarl. A pair of Oryx, supported by a fuel bowser, worked alongside three Hueys, a spotter plane and an Air Tractor water bomber through a 48 hour weekend bringing fires under control. About 300 ground-based firefighters were involved in this effort.

During subsequent firefighting efforts the SAAF had to divert one rotary-winged aircraft to Simon’s Town following a call for assistance from the SA Navy.

Between January 6 and 16 the squadron flew just on 94 hours, dropping 2.7 million litres of water.