The SA Air Force (SAAF), in the form of AFB Ysterplaat-based 22 Squadron, is again assisting with firefighting operations in the Western Cape.
Provincial local government, environmental affairs and development planning minister, Anton Bredell, said today the SAAF “agreed to deploy additional resources to combat fires in the province”.
Last week a pair of Oryx helicopters were deployed to assist Working On Fire rotary-winged aircraft fighting fires in the Somerset West, Stellenbosch area and fires around Simon’s Town.
“We are grateful to the SAAF and the Minister of Defence for their assistance. The Oryx helicopters are much larger and able to deliver a bigger payload compared to the helicopters we usually rely on. We know the SAAF assistance will make a huge difference,” Bredell said in a statement.
The medium transport helicopters deployed to Paarl today are part of air and ground firefighting forces that are bringing no less than 19 fires across the province under control.
“The major incident is a fire in the Paarl area still burning out of control. One major structure was destroyed earlier today and the fire is being fanned by strong winds with several properties at risk,” Bredell said.
An indication of the wind strength came earlier in the week when a fire jumped a road in Simon’s Town and set alight trees in the garden of Admiralty House at the naval base. Speedy work by naval personal ensured no major damage was caused.
Estimates are the widespread fires over Western Cape have damaged more than 95 000 ha of land as well as a number of houses since last week.
Picture: Courtesy Doug Drysdale via the Unofficial SAAF website