22 Squadron fights Western Cape fires


Fire season has arrived in the Western Cape and the SA Air Force (SAAF) via its Air Force Base Ysterplaat–based helicopter squadron is contributing to firefighting efforts.

This commitment saw an Oryx medium transport on 26 February tasked to assist firefighting efforts in Jonkershoek following a request for assistance from Western Cape provincial disaster management.

The fire which started in Franschhoek’s Banghoek area on 22 February spread to the upper reaches of the mountain and then down into Jonkershoek valley.

AFB Ysterplaat bulk fuel assisted with refuelling at Pniel. Water was taken from local dams. The crew flew three hours and 20 minutes, burning 897 litres of fuel and putting 39 Bambi buckets, around 78 000 litres of water, on to the blaze. After this effort it was a safe return to base for the Oryx.

On 27 February another 22 Squadron Oryx deployed to Lourensford farm in the Somerset West area, from where firefighting was conducted. Ysterplaat bulk fuel again assisted with refuelling at Lourensford. Firefighting was executed in co-operation with ground teams from Cape Nature Conservation trooped to the site by the military helicopter.

The crew flew 7.3 hours and dropped 61 Bambi buckets (122 000 litres of water) on teh fire.