A fire that burned its way through the valley between the Monument and Rhodes University’s newer hill-top residences on Monday 21 June is completely extinguished, Makana Fire Services Manager William Welkom confirmed on Thursday. On the west side of the valley, the disused quarry behind Rhodes University’s Chris Hani House and the Continuing Education Centre in Makhanda was still smouldering a little, however. There was no damage to any property or infrastructure and no injuries were reported.
The Makana Fire Service has been on high alert in this week’s warm, dry and windy conditions.
Teams from Makana and Sarah Baartman Fire Services, Rhodes University and the Monument, local security companies and several citizen volunteers battled a blaze that started in the valley between the Monument and the newer hill-top residences around 3pm on Monday 21 June. The fire, fanned by windy conditions, spread up the hill towards the Monument, as well as southwards towards the University’s Gavin Relly Postgraduate Village.
A team remained at the Postgrad Village late into the night, monitoring burning that continued at the southern end of the valley, close to the complex. Earlier, students at the complex were alerted to be prepared to evacuate should it become necessary. Students and university officials rushed to the Village to monitor the situation and prepare for action.
Water tankers from Rhodes University and Makana Municipality were on hand and Monument staff, with Basil Mills, dampened down surrounding vegetation in case the fire threatened the building. The Monument is supplied by a borehole.
Meanwhile, the Tsitsikamma fires that forced authorities to close the N2 on Monday were by Thursday under control after destroying more than 2 400 ha of forestry plantation. The fires that kept hundreds of fire fighters busy for four days and three nights started on 21 June 2021 at Coldstream and Koomansbos in the Tsitsikamma.
Five Working on Fire teams (WOF), SanParks and MOT fire fighters together with seven tankers were doing mopping up and patrolling at Coldstream Thursday morning and two WOF teams based in Koomansbos were also mopping up and monitoring, said WOF spokesperson Nthabiseng Mokone.
“Weather conditions have improved and light drizzle assisted a lot in the fire suppression operations. All efforts will focus to get the fire contained completely under these favourable conditions.”
Around 150 Working on Fire fire fighters partnered with MTO Forestry, SANParks, Kou Kamma Fire Department, Sarah Baartman Fire Services, EC Umbrella FPA, Sarah Baartman District Municipality Disaster Management Unit , Sarah Baartman West Fire Protection Association and the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association in an effort to combat the fire.
“To date no fatalities, serious injuries or loss of infrastructure has been reported,” said Mokone.