South Africa 6.1.2017 01:25 pm

Pulling together to fight Somerset West fires

NSRI Gordons Bay crews on standby throughout the night to assist in the Somerset West fires. Picture: NSRI Gordons Bay

NSRI Gordons Bay crews on standby throughout the night to assist in the Somerset West fires. Picture: NSRI Gordons Bay

The National Sea Rescue Institute commended the community for their assistance in fighting the blazes.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Gordons Bay remains on high alert to assist with the fires in Somerset West if necessary and commended the community for being “superb” in their support.

In a statement released by the NSRI on Friday, Alan Meiklejohn, NSRI Gordons Bay station commander described how the rescue volunteers were deployed to assist at the Somerset West fires since Wednesday evening.

Meiklejohn said the duty crew remained on alert to respond to sea rescue emergencies while the off-duty crew assembled to assist with the fires.

He said from about 8pm to midnight on Wednesday, they joined the SA Police Service, community services, the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management and Law Enforcement and assisted in transporting supplies from the drop off points to where they were needed by the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, Working on Fire and Volunteer Wildfire Services crews fighting the fires.

He said that the Gordons Bay Security ambulance services and Western Cape Government Health Emergency Medical Services were also on hand to assist and that the community were “absolutely brilliant in their support”.

“Heyns de Waal of Gordons Bay Security and ambulance services and his team have been instrumental in their coordination and tirelessly pulling the community and emergency services together in cooperation,” said Meiklejohn.

At 9pm on Thursday evening, a NSRI Gordons Bay rescue team was assembled to respond to Lourensford Estate at the request of City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management. He said the fire, at its worst, threatened residents on the estate.

Meiklejohn explained that Lourensford Estate had their own fire teams and an extensive evacuation plan for their employees and estate residents. He said the SA Police Services, City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, NSRI and community services were also on standby to assist.

He said no evacuation was required.

“A shift in the wind then sent the fire back on itself and it appears that Stellenbosch is now at most risk,” said Meiklejohn.

As NSRI Gordons Bay said they would remain on alert to assist if necessary, the Lowveld Fire Danger Index Map for Friday on the SA Weather Service website shows a warning for extremely dangerous fires in the Western Cape:

Lowveld Fire Danger Index Map. Picture: South African Weather Service website

Lowveld Fire Danger Index Map. Picture: South African Weather Service website

In the spirit of community, Uber South Africa is lending a hand to assist the firefighters who are lending their efforts to extinguish the Somerset West blazes in an #UberCOMMUNITY campaign.

In a bid to make donating non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods and liquid refreshments convenient for Cape Town residents, Uber drivers will collect donations from people’s doorsteps and deliver them to the Roeland Street Fire Station or Stand Fire Station for free on Friday until 3pm. 

The collection started at 10am on Friday.

Many have taken to social media to share their images of firefighters hard at work and the devastating fires raging:

Among the many emotive images of the fires and firefighters and volunteers that people have been circulating on social media is an image of a firefighter rescuing a dog. This image, however, is apparently not one of the Western Cape firefighters. According to the Good Things Guy, the firefighter is actually from the Largo Fire Rescue in Florida, USA and the photo was taken on March 4, 2014.

The image is posted below:

Caxton News Service

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