Rain, cooler weather reduce Cape Town fires

Rain and cooler weather in Cape Town and surrounds seem to have resulted in fewer veld fires than previous years since the onset of the fire season on 1 December, with data showing a steep decline in vegetation fires for the first two weeks of the month to 313 compared with 672 last year and 547 in 2019.

“We have seen a downturn in the number of vegetation fires, compared to previous years. This could very well be the result of the milder weather conditions we have been experiencing,” mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith told the Mail & Guardian.

South African National Parks (SANParks) spokesperson Rey Thakhuli described the start of the province’s fire season as average.

“In the past five years there have been significant rains in December which usually leads to a later and longer season. Therefore for this season we’re predicting a longer season by end of April/early May 2022,” Thakhuli said. The Western Cape province follows a winter rainfall pattern. 

During the second week of December there were seven fires in various areas, with a high number reported in the Ocean View area. The exact causes of these fires were still under investigation, Thakhuli said.

The City of Cape Town provides additional firefighting resources during the fire season months between December and April. 

“These additional resources include aerial support, seasonal firefighters and this year, we also have an additional 22 firefighters who recently graduated after completing their training,” Smith said.

This April, just as the fire season came to an end, Cape Town experienced the devastating Rhodes Memorial fire which saw residents living near the slope of Table Mountain forced to evacuate their homes. The fire, carried by strong winds, gutted historic landmarks and engulfed the University of Cape Town’s Jagger Reading Room, destroying thousands of unique and irreplaceable documents.

Initially the cause of the fire was thought to have been an untended vegetation fire, but an independent report revealed that it was started deliberately. No one has been arrested as the investigation continues. 

Members of the public can report fires by calling their local district municipality. In Cape Town it is 107 or 021 480 7700 from a cell phone. For other Western Cape municipalities, click here.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Spaza shops take centre stage in township economy

Consumers living in such areas are spending more at spazas than big retailers, according to a report

PODCAST| Monkeypox: How it spreads, when to test and why...

The smallpox vaccine provides 85% protection against infection with monkeypox, but South Africa stopped vaccinating people against smallpox in 1980

Nike x Jacquemus collab: What to expect

The Nike x Jacquemus collaboration drops on Tuesday 28 June online. So far, no ludicrously tiny handbags in sight, but luxurious feminine twists on activewear that make this the collection you didn’t know you needed

Test cricket is dead, but not for the eager Proteas

Even before the demise of this format of the game was predicted, the women’s team had little opportunity to experience and enjoy it

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…