Man faces arson charges over Boyes Drive blaze

Five helicopters water-bombed the scene of a fire on Boyes Drive above Lakeside on Monday.

A 32-year-old man suspected of having started the wildfire on Boyes Drive on Monday is due to appear in the Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court today, Wednesday January 18, to face charges of arson.

More than 70 firefighters and five helicopters fought the blaze on the mountain slopes of Boyes Drive in the direction of Lakeside.

While the fire was still raging, the suspect was arrested by the police, according to Muizenberg police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Lourens.

Table Mountain National Park’s fire manager, Philip Prins, said a vagrant’s cooking fire had started the blaze.

“Table Mountain National Park is contracting Enviro WildFire Services to do further fire investigations on behalf of the park,” he said.

The flames started in the afternoon, and eight fire trucks were deployed at 3.12pm, according to Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse.

Three helicopters from Working on Fire and two from the Winelands Fire Protection Association’s Quick Reaction Force water-bombed the area.

Despite strong winds, the fire was extinguished by 4.54 pm, according to City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Edward Bosch.

A 20-member team from NCC Wildfires, a firefighting contractor, remained on the scene overnight to do mop-up operations and put out flare-ups, according to NCC managing director Dean Ferreira.

“This is how a fire, on a high fire-index day, needs to be managed. Throw everything at it to get it under control before it can grow in size and risk,” said NCC Wildfires on Facebook.

On social media, residents praised the firefighters’ efforts

“Couldn’t be more impressed by how fast the firefighters and choppers were mobilised. These chopper pilots especially are beyond impressive. A huge thank you to all the brave people fighting this blaze,” said Nina Foreman.

Linda Fasham said, “The firefighters and helicopters were absolutely amazing. Incredible. Well done to their most efficient and brave handling of containing the fire. The wind is vicious here at the moment.”

“The team of helicopter pilots and those on the ground were unbelievable! So impressive to see the whole operation. Bravo!” said Barbara Cole.

Ground crews and aerial support were used to get the Boyes Drive fire under control.
Smoke engulfed Boyes Drive on Monday afternoon as firefighters continued their attack on the blaze.