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South Africa: Fire fighters in battle of blaze on slopes of mountain near Cape Town

A South African firefighter battles a blaze on the mountain above Simon's Town on December 20, 2023.   -  
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South Africa

More than 300 firefighters were battling a blaze on the slopes of a mountain near Cape Town in South Africa for a second day on Wednesday.

Meanwhile residents were evacuated from at least one neighborhood overnight, emergency services said.

Five firefighters were injured and two were taken to the hospital, the city’s Emergency Services spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said.

The wildfire on the mountain slopes near the seaside town of Simon’s Town, around 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cape Town, had threatened houses in the pre-dawn hours after it started on Tuesday.

That threat was narrowly averted, Carelse said.

He said only one derelict building on the grounds of a nearby South African navy base had been damaged.

Residents were evacuated from the neighborhood most at threat just before 1 a.m. as a precaution, he said. Three helicopters continued to scoop up water from the ocean and drop it on the fire.

Firefighters had worked to put out the fire through most of Tuesday and overnight, but it was still burning, Carelse said.

The fire lit up the mountain that overlooks Simon’s Town, a small resort town that hosts South Africa’s flagship naval base.

Wildfires are a regular threat on the mountain slopes around Cape Town in the hot, dry months from November to April.

They become dangerous and unpredictable when they are fanned by strong coastal winds, which city authorities said happened with the Simon’s Town fire.

A huge wildfire burned across the slopes of Cape Town’s world-famous Table Mountain for days in 2021, destroying nearly a dozen buildings, including some historic structures at the University of Cape Town.

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