A blaze that has been affecting Betty’s Bay for several days has now spread onto Koggelbaai Mountain, prompting local authorities to close the R44 between Gordons Bay and Rooi-Els and begin evacuations in the Overstrand area.
Firefighters from the City of Cape Town, Table Mountain National Parks staff and one helicopter assisted with battling the blaze at 9am today.
Additional teams provided aid throughout the day.
The Overstand Municipality has released an official update on the situation explaining why the R44 has been closed: “In summary the fire above the R44 moved down in a gully, spotted and burnt onto the tar road forcing authorities to close it.”
The City’s Fire and Rescue spokesperson, Theo Layne, confirms that the blaze is under control.
“Mountain fire in Koggelbaai contained at the moment along the R44 McLaren’s Drive,” he says.
Layne says the fire is still burning on the ridge and a strong south easterly wind is fanning the fire.
“Fire crews will remain on scene throughout the night to monitor and deal with any flare-ups along the R44,” says Lane.
Provincial Traffic Chief Kenny Africa explains that vehicle access to the R44 has remained closed.
“Clarence drive will remain closed throughout the night and will only reopen tomorrow morning around 9am,” says Africa.
This has caused a large traffic jam on Sir Lowry’s pass, with vehicles going bumper-to-bumper along the road.
Reports state that the fire spread from Betty’s Bay in the upper slopes of the mountains to the R44 in the Koggelsbaai area.
The Fire and Rescue services saw to the evacuation of people in Koggelbaai resort and Sparks Bay to ensure their safety.
#BettysBayFire 06/01/19 11.00 update on FB. PLEASE NOTE the Sparks Bay & Koggel Bay Resort campers are being evacuated due to the fire descending from above Blousteen peak. Firefighter, aerial support and tenders on scene. R44 will remain closed pic.twitter.com/62zb6zQpS8
— Greater Overberg FPA (@OverbergFPA) January 6, 2019
BETTY’S BAY, PRINGLE BAY, ROOIELS FIRE UPDATE 06/01/19 @ 05:20 #wildfires
Still burning above Bettys Bay and fire remains moving toward Cape Town on both sides of the R44 between Rooi Els and Gordons Bay. R44 remains closed on both ends.#FireWarning pic.twitter.com/5QQ0nNBf9M
— SOUTHERN STAYING ??? (@SouthernStaying) January 6, 2019
This is such incredible flying to combat the #bettysbayfire. The ground crews are incredible too – working on the fire line in the thick of flames and smoke. Thank you for your amazing work! pic.twitter.com/xsH8kgeXHq
— Sophie vd Heyden (@vonderHeydenlab) January 6, 2019
The Overstrand Municipality has released a social media statement encouraging the public to provide aid to the women and men working tirelessly to extinguish the blaze.
“Donations are requested for head lamp batteries (AAA), battery pack (to extend the lifespan of phone battery) and airtime (domination of around R30 for service providers Vodacom or Cell C) please.”
Items can be delivered to the Incident Command Post at Stony Point Penguin Colony or Crassula Hall in Betty’s Bay.
Goods can be dropped off at the Hermanus Fire and Rescue & Disaster Management offices which are open 24 hours a day.
Monetory donations can be made to the Overstrand Municipality Executive Mayor’s special fund to assist the Betty’s Bay, Hangklip, Pringle Bay and Rooiels areas.
Account holder: Overstand Municipality
Account type: Current Account
Branch code: 334 812
Account number: 3220 000 035
Donators are advised to include a payment reference stating Mayoral Fund-B/Bay followed by either the words reward or support.
Picture: Greater Overberg FPA/Facebook