31 houses destroyed, 28 damaged as wildfire rages on Cape coastline

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CAPE TOWN, January 12 – Thirty-one residential properties have been completely destroyed and 28 properties sustained partial to major damage in the raging fires in the Betty’s Bay area, east of Cape Town, the city’s fire chief Theo Layne said on Saturday.

A final inspection of all residential properties to ensure that every person was evacuated was done overnight, while “complete extinguishment of affected properties were being done”, he said.

“Thirty-one residential properties completely destroyed. Twenty-eight properties sustained partial to major damage. It is estimated that more than 12,800 hectares of vegetation was destroyed.

“A full impact study will carried out to determine how much of the rare and endangered species of flora has been affected. Crews will remain on [the] scene for some considerable time to ensure that the fire is completely extinguished. The overnight rain has allowed for rapid cooling of the burn area,” Layne said.

Clarence Drive (R44 ) was reopened during the early hours of Saturday morning and no further road closures were in place, he said.

On Friday night, residents of Franskraal near Gansbaai on the Southern Cape coastline were ordered to evacuate after the wildfire roared out of control, fanned by gusting wind.

The Overstrand Municipality issued an emergency evacuation order as the fire raged, with authorities designating the Gansbaai Tourism Office Hall the emergency evacuation point.

The order by the municipality’s fire and disaster management department declared, “This message is for your safety, you are to immediately evacuate your home.”

A wildfire in the Karwyderskraal area also saw evacuation ordered for farms in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley area.

The areas evacuated by the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at Hermanus Municipality Disaster Management are sections of Betty’s Bay; Gansbaai – Franskraal has been evacuated; and Karwyderskraal – Camphill, Bona Dea, Farms at the bottom end of Hemel-en-Aarde, and sections of Northcliff, Eastcliff, Fernkloof, Hermanus Heights, have been evacuated. (ANA)