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19 January 2024

Table Mountain National Park Addresses Surge in Fires

Between January 1, 2024, and January 18, 2024, Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) witnessed a notable increase in fire incidents, responding to a total of 22 fires in the month of January 2024 A concerning pattern has emerged with the majority of recent fires occurring in the southern section of the TMNP, namely in the Kalk Bay, Oceanview and Redhill areas, as well as in the north of the park, in the Signal Hill and Pipe Track areas. Fires in these areas can pose a significant risk to communities living adjacent to the park, particularly with the hot temperatures and strong wind conditions currently being experienced.

SANParks firefighting teams, comprised of contracted crews from Nature Conservation Cooperation (NCC) Wildfires, Working on Fire and Volunteer Wildfire Services with Cape Town City Fire and Rescue Services have demonstrated swift response and effective containment of fires.

A concerning trend in the cause of these fires has surfaced with the majority attributed to deliberate malicious intent.

Following investigations into the fires by Environmental Wildfire Services, it is suspected that the three major fires on were started with malicious intent.

Kalk Bay Fire – Malicious Intent
The fire above Boyes Drive in Kalk Bay, which started on 17 January 2024, burnt approximately 73 hectares of veld and was contained (i.e. stopped spreading) at 21h45 with the collaborative efforts of over 115 firefighters, management staff, three Huey Helicopters, an AT 802 air tractor bomber, and a spotter plane.  Firefighters are still busy dealing with flare-ups from hotspots in this fire area.

Slangkop (Ocean View) Fire – Malicious intent
A veld fire erupted in the Ocean View area at approximately 17h15  on 18 January 2024. Preliminary reports suggest the use of dry-cut alien vegetation, potentially ignited with a cigarette lighter.

Pinehaven Fire – Malicious intent
This fire started between Pinehaven and Da Gama and spread towards Scarborough at approximately 23h30 on 18 January 2024. Current indicators strongly suggest that the Pinehaven fire was ignited with malicious intent. Further investigation is underway.

SANParks’ dedicated crews, supported by NCC Wildfires and VWS, are on standby throughout the season and prepared for immediate deployment upon activation to ensure a robust response to emergent situations.  A strong partnership with the City of Cape Town and Provincial Disaster Management ensures joint response to fires of consequence. Efforts are underway to increase patrols in the south where many fires have occurred.

Further appreciation is conveyed to the public for their support, the Checkers group for their donation of goods and to Spur Steak Ranch and Nando’s for sponsoring meals for firefighters.

SANParks would like to take this opportunity to request that the public continue to be vigilant and report any fires or suspicious activity immediately. Information in the form of pin locations, photographs and/or video clips of the early stages of any fire occurring within the Park is very valuable for an investigation into the cause of the fire in order for investigators to reconstruct the sequence of events on behalf of South African National Parks. The public is urged not to make fires, even in designated areas when wind conditions are very strong, due to the risk of fires spreading. Fires and illegal activity in Table Mountain National Park can be reported to the emergency number on 086 110 021 or the Newlands Fire Base on 021 689 7438.