Efforts to suppress raging wildfires in the Coldstream and Koomansbos areas of Tsitsikamma, Eastern Cape where just over 2 400 hectares of commercial plantations and natural veld have been destroyed, are in full swing.
More than 150 firefighters from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Working on Fire teams, together with teams from governmental and non-governmental organisations have been battling the fires that reportedly started earlier this week.
In addition, two Working on Fire Huey helicopters and one fixed wing spotter plane have flown 31 hours, providing aerial firefighting services in support of ground crews at these fires.
Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has expressed gratitude to the firefighter and different stakeholders participating in the battle.
“A big thank you to all firefighters and local communities for the continued support. A special word of appreciation to businesses, particularly those retailers in Humansdorp which donated food parcels to the hero and heroines battling the fire,” she said.
Minister Creecy emphasised the importance of cooperation and teamwork amongst all stakeholders participating in the firefighting efforts, which are coordinated under the Eastern Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association and the Southern Cape Fire Protection.
The Eastern Cape has two fire seasons, a winter fire season, which affects the eastern part of the province from June to October, and a summer fire season, which affects the western part of the province from December to April.
In preparation for the winter fire season, close to 400 firefighters in the Eastern region underwent their annual yellow card training camps, which ensured that they are fully fit, and ready for the fire season.
However, Minister Creecy has urged communities and landowners to be extra vigilant during these cold winter months and not to start any unnecessary fires, which could lead to a disaster runaway fire.
“Ensure that your properties do not have any waste material with a high fuel load and make sure that you do not have overhanging trees close to your properties,” she said.
Property owners are also encouraged to clean their gutters and to have the telephone numbers of their local fire services at hand.