Table Mountain Fire Shuts Cape Town Schools, Spurs Evacuations

  • At least 18 other fires burning in Western Cape Province
  • South African Air Force helicopters deployed to combat fires

Helicopters dumped water to douse flames on inaccessible slopes on Cape Town’s landmark Table Mountain, after firefighters battled a blaze that forced the closing of several schools and a number of city residents to evacuate their homes to escape the smoke and ash.

“The fire within the Cape Town city bowl that broke out on Monday evening has not yet been completely extinguished,” Colin Deiner, head of disaster management in South Africa’s Western Cape province, said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. “Operations are continuing to prevent further flare-ups.”

Fire on Table Mountain on Jan. 17.

Photographer: Nardus Engelbrecht/AFP via Getty Images

There have been no reports of injuries or missing people, and traffic flows haven’t been affected, Theo Layne, a spokesman for the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Department, said by phone. More than 100 firefighters are on the site, he said.

Firefighters are battling at least 18 other fires in the Western Cape province, including one that’s burning out of control around Paarl, a wine-grape growing area about 62 kilometers (39 miles) northeast of Cape Town, and destroyed a building on Tuesday morning.

“The priority for the firefighting entities at the moment remains the Paarl fire,” Deiner said. “The extremely strong wind is making flying very difficult. There are currently around 200 firefighters on the scene battling very difficult conditions.”

The South African Air Force has agreed to deploy additional helicopters to help combat the fires, said Anton Bredell, the provincial minister of local government, environmental affairs and development planning.

— With assistance by Amogelang Mbatha

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