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Preventing Fires On Table Mountain This Summer

  • 3 min read

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) cautions all local residents, tourists and stakeholders to take the necessary safety precautions to prevent uncontained wildfires on Table Mountain during the summer season.

The City of Cape Town (in December 2021) also cautioned that the summer season is when the City’s Fire and Rescue Service usually sees an increase in vegetation related fires. (“Cape Town fire service geared up and ready for Summer season”, media release issued on 24 December 2021 by City of Cape Town.)

In the early hours of 18 April 2021, a fire broke out at the Cecil John Rhodes Memorial, which had over the course of just a few days caused significant damage to the University of Cape Town’s upper campus, neighboring properties and around 600 hectares of land within the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). In addition, a fire also started on Lion’s Head on 6 June last year and on Signal Hill at the start of this year.

The increase in fires are a shared concern for all stakeholders and residents in Cape Town. The risk of an uncontrolled fire is simply too high, and TMACC calls on residents and visitors to Cape Town to play a role in vigilance when it comes to fires on and around Table Mountain.

“Preventing fires is a collective responsibility for locals, tourists, and stakeholders alike. We must play our part in preventing and containing fires on the mountain. When a fire does break out, it often leads to the loss of life as well as damage to fauna and flora as well as damage to property,” says Wahida Parker, Managing Director of TMACC.

“Social fires are deeply engrained in South African culture. However, the right precautions should always be observed to ensure that everyone is kept safe, and the fire remains contained. TMACC recommends taking the following steps to play a part in ensuring fire safety throughout the summer season.”

Respect all restrictions

The most crucial step to take is to limit making fires to an area where it has been designated by TMNP as safe to do so. Abiding by the rules is the most helpful and responsible step to take to avoid dangerous scenarios. It is also important to remember that adhering to these restrictions are not optional, but enforceable by law.

Remain cautious of wind  

Weather is a significant determining factor in fire management, especially during the summer months. Cape Town sees a lot of wind during the months of December, January and February, which make controlling veldfires very difficult.

When fires are in progress, strong winds usually lead to the uncontrollable spread of the fire across the mountain. In this instance, avoid going near the mountain at all costs and remain in a safe, fire-free area. Only revisit the mountain when officials of TMNP have signaled that it is safe to do so again.

Call the relevant authorities in case of an emergency

The first step to take when a fire does break out is to alert the relevant authorities as soon as possible. The TMNP has a specialized hotline for fires, which can be contact on 086 110 6417. Alternatively, the City of Cape Town’s Regional Fire Control can be contacted on 021 590 1900, while the Newlands Fire Base is reachable by 021 689 7438.

“When we work together and take responsibility for our own safety and the safety of others, we can preserve the beautiful icon that is Table Mountain, and also protect citizens and institutions in the surrounding areas,” concludes Parker.