UWC counts cost of fireworks damage
Petru Saal | 2017-01-30 09:58:57.0
Robin Adams the resident conservationist at the Cape Flats Nature Reserve along with committed academic and non-academic UWC staffers and the local fire department, helped save the day when a fire almost destroyed the nature reserve buildings.
Image by: Laurenda van Breda
Staff at the University of the Western Cape’s Cape Flats Nature Reserve are still picking up the pieces after a New Years’ Day fire destroyed two hectares of vegetation. It also damaged one hectare at the university’s main entrance.
Sparks from fireworks are behind the blaze and the Belhar Fire Department battled the inferno for four hours. The fire had posed a danger to the animal life in the reserve as well as the Radnor Business Park‚ directly opposite the university‚ on Robert Sobukwe Road.
Two camera traps were destroyed‚ and about 200 metres of fencing and signage had to be replaced.
“We are grateful for the special efforts of the various fire departments who assisted during a time of frequent veld fires” said the head of the reserve‚ Hestelle Melville. Melville explained that fire was able to gain momentum due to strong winds and high temperatures. The fire spread from the picnic area in the centre of the reserve to the vegetation lining the Robert Sobukwe main entrance. It narrowly missed the environmental education building.
UWC staff member and nature conservationist‚ Robin Adams‚ said had the fire not been brought under control most of the campus would have been destroyed. “By the time I arrived‚ the fire was about five metres high. In the meantime‚ security personnel and our committed UWC staffers were going the extra mile doing their thing acting as fire beaters. That’s when I got the fire hydrant piping out and managed to get the fire around the main building under control‚ with the assistance of my colleagues” said Adams.
Residents in the surrounding areas have been advised to not use fireworks in dry and windy conditions. The smallest spark can ignite a fire that can carry on for days‚ especially since Fynbos can continue smoldering underground through the vegetation’s root systems for days – even after a fire is extinguished.