Combined efforts address high fire risks on Seven Passes Road

The South Cape Fire Protection Association (SCFPA), George Municipality and a private property owner are combining efforts to reduce fire load and related risks on a large agricultural property above Wilderness.

George Fire Chief Neels Barnard said the municipality approved a permit for the SCFPA to manage controlled burns and fuel load reduction on a private farm on the Seven Passes Road. “This area is part of a section that has been identified as a high fire risk during fire risk assessment in the municipal area and we commend the property owners for taking up their responsibility to control alien vegetation and reduce fuel load. We hope others will follow suit.”

The area above Wilderness is a high-risk fire area because of mainly two reasons – the amount of alien vegetation growing north of the village and hot berg winds blowing from the north/north-west during certain times of the year. “This region has been among the heaviest hit during wild fires over the past few years and the role of private land owners to manage fire risk is essential to life and property,” said Mr Barnard.

SCFPA Eastern Regional Manager Dirk Smit said the property owner was a member of the association and had requested assistance from the association to professionally, safely and cost effectively assist with the clearing of fuel load on about 50 hectares of land. “A controlled burn took place Tuesday 8 October, was well-managed by the SCFPA and overseen by the George Municipality.

“Weather-permitting, further actions will include the burning of fuel load stacks in areas across the farm. About three days of burning is expected and should take place in the next few weeks, depending on weather conditions and the start of fire season,” said Mr Smit.

While the official fire season starts on 1 December 2019 in the Western Cape, the George and Garden Route District Municipalities may decide to stop issuing controlled burn permits earlier, depending on risk factors such as long spells of hot and dry weather conditions.

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