UPDATE: Fires in the Melville Koppies West are ‘common’

The Melville Koppies West now.

Wendy Carstens, chairperson of the Melville Koppies Management Committee, has confirmed that fires in Melville Koppies West are common.

This after a fire raged through the koppies on the evening of 16 June, which firefighters battled for hours.

The Melville Koppies West now.

City of Joburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said the cause of the fire is still unknown and there were no reports of injuries or damage to private property.

“We couldn’t use water to extinguish the fire due to high voltage electricity pylons in the area.
Instead we used grass beaters to extinguish the fire. Grass beaters are made of old damaged fire hoses in the fire service,” he said, adding that wind direction was in the favour of the firefighters.

Carstens said there are fire breaks in the koppies so while neighbouring residents were relatively close to the flames, they were never in danger.

The Melville Koppies West is a public space, separate from the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, Carstens explained.

It is thus an unprotected nature environment, and homeless people do live there, she said.

She said a fire like this one are a yearly occurrence.

During the fire, residents took to social media to give witness to the flames and smoke emerging from the Koppies.

Judy Ditchfield said she could see the fire clearly from her home and took the photo below.

The fire in Melville Koppies West. Photo: Judy Ditchfield.

Mulaudzi added, “We are also happy with the acknowledgment of hard work we received from members of the community in the area and also on social media. We really appreciate it [and] we promise to do our best all the times when we are called on.”

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