Overstrand Municipality: Fire & Rescue Services
Few ABI members likely worked as hard as these members over the December/January holidays. The Overstrand Municipality Fire & Rescue Services were faced with a number of devastating wildfires. And they remain on high alert now (until at least May, when the fire season officially ends).
Three fires stand out during the past two months:
The Betty’s Bay fire:
Here more than 30 houses were burnt to the ground, and a further 28 were partially burnt in a fire that lasted more than two weeks. One woman died during the fire. Aside from the devastation to the infrastructure, around 12,800 hectares burned in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.
The Hermanus fire:
Around 1,300 hectares burned during this fire, with little damage to structures – thanks to the fire services and the Hermanus community.
The Franskraal fire:
The town of Franskraal was also evacuated in January. Two structures were ultimately damaged in the town, and five houses were razed to the ground in the Franskraal Caravan Park. Nearly 1,000 hectares burned during this fire.
During the ABI AGM last year, the Overstrand Fire & Rescue Services’s Angelo Aplon highlighted the work they put into protecting lives and infrastructure. “We’re very cross when we lose a dwelling. It’s a loss for us.” His words were prescient. During the meeting, he said, “Fire lines are sometimes kilometres long and the fire is advancing. The problem is with the urban interface. There’s a lot of emotion, there’s a lot of panic.”
Despite their support during the fire season to the Overstrand community (and beyond), the Fire & Rescue Services actually start their work long before the launch of the fire season.
This includes winter programmes to visit schools and work places, to raise awareness around wildfires. And the municipality also encourages ecological burns. “We believe we must have various veld ages and not continuous veld. It’s important to manage the land, this will reduce the devastation of wildfires.”
For their hard work during a challenging fire season, the Overstrand Municipality Fire & Rescue Services are the chosen ABI member of the month.
Images: Sullivan Photography.
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