Sapa
1 minute read
9 Mar 2015
7:52 am

Skilled pilot was respected – SANParks

Sapa

Willem "Bees" Marais, who died in a helicopter crash, was a respected pilot, the SA National Parks said on Sunday.

FILE PICTURE: A firefighting helictopter dumps on March 2, 2015 water on part of a large bush fire raging in the mountains on the Cape Peninsula in the greater Cape Town area. Five houses and an upmarket hotel were destroyed and dozens of people evacuated from their homes as wildfires raged through Cape Town's scenic southern peninsula. AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH

“Bees, as he was affectionately known by friends and family alike, played a vital role in supressing the fire that has burnt across the Table Mountain National Park during the course of this week,” SANParks board chairman Kuseni Dlamini said in a statement.

“His vast knowledge, experience and skill as a helicopter pilot was respected by all.”

Marais’ helicopter crashed while fighting a blaze at the Cape Point Nature Reserve on Sunday.

At least 500 people had been evacuated since the fire began in Muizenberg.

The fire started last Sunday and was contained, but flared up again just after on Monday in Muizenberg above Boyes Drive. It was fanned by strong winds.

It spread to Ou Kaapse Weg, Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay, and Tokai.

One city fire-fighter sustained burn wounds and 52 frail-care residents from a Noordhoek retirement village were treated for smoke inhalation.

More than 2000 people were helping to quell the fire during the week, the environmental affairs department said at the time.