News Article

News clippings from the Farm Watch

Arson suspected in Drakenstein fires

Farmers in the Western Cape municipality believe the fires that have hit the area over the past five days were set on purpose…

By Lloyd Phillips
January 10, 2017 1:57 pm

The latest fire began at about 11.30pm on Monday, 9 January. With 70 km/h winds behind it, it burnt about 250ha.

“It’s still being fought, but conditions are much calmer now,” said Drakenstein Farm Watch (DFW) secretary Tessa van Leeuwen Boomkamp.

The fire necessitated the urgent relocation of 50 to 60 horses and many other animals. Two guest houses, a number of farm worker accommodations and orchards, vineyards (Druk-My-Niet Wine Estate) and forestry plantations were damaged.

Reports that five people had succumbed to the fire were subsequently proven incorrect.

READ Wildfire on the Helderberg Mountain contained

“The drought and lack of water have contributed to the problem fires,” said Van Leeuwen Boomkamp.

“What’s making the situation worse is that some of these fires disappear underground to smoulder there, and then they emerge above ground again. And firefighting aircraft and equipment are having to use already scarce water resources in farm dams. This is going to create a problem in a few months.”

DFW, which helped fight all of the fires in the municipality, said that while indications were that the fires were being deliberately set, the motives were not yet clear.

http://www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/arson-suspected-drakenstein-fires/

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Local farm watch fights fires too

Paarl Post recently reported on the many successes of the Klein Drakenstein Farm Watch unit. They have helped local authorities apprehend criminals and make one of the larger rural areas in the valley a safer place.

But now they will not only be fighting crime, but fire as well.

Annually thousands of rands worth of damage is caused by mountain fires which often move onto adjacent farm land.

The Klein Drakenstein Farm Watch was established three years ago and today has about 30 active members.

A new joint venture between ADT Security and the Klein Drakenstein Farm Watch was also announced recently. It marks the first time ADT Security has joined forces with a specialised farm watch in the area.

Daan van Leeuwen Boomkamp, chairman of the farm watch, had a truck converted into a working fire-truck for use by the farm watch.

“We used my old Isuzu truck which the farm watch will use to help with fighting fire. The conversion cost close to R60 000 and was supplied and installed by Donovan Victor of Fireproof in Paarl.”

The need to react faster and try and lessen damage prompted this fire fighting initiative.

“The fire-fighting unit of our farm watch has been in operation for about three years, and was begun as a necessity, as we saw the need to tackle fires in our area immediately.”

With ADT on their side, boundaries for fire fighting in the farming areas have been extended.

“We have partnered with other farm watches who wanted to join our team,” said Boomkamp. “Our area ranges from Perdeberg towards Simondium and Wemmershoek. We estimate that there are roughly 600 farms.”

There are some key role-players on board.

“These include the Drakenstein Farm Watch and its management team, some very capable and willing community members from our area,” Boomkamp said. “Our unit includes ex-military, ex-fire brigade and ex-police members; the armed response unit of ADT and the partnership with the Northern Suburbs community control centre. This combination makes us well sorted.”

The hopes and dreams of this unit are simple. “It is for the fire fighting unit to have our own 4×4 fire truck which we can take into the mountains,” the farm watchman said.

* The Northern Suburbs community control centre in Belville can be contacted on 086 0666 662 to report any emergency. as well as the local police.

http://www.netwerk24.com/ZA/Paarl-Post/Nuus/local-farm-watch-fights-fires-too-20151209-2

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Evacuations in Somerset West ongoing

Cape Town – Areas in Somerset West are being evacuated after wildfires damaged several homes in the area, an eyewitness confirmed.

“They are currently evacuating people in the Knorhoek Valley,” Somerset West resident Wallace du Plessis told News24 at 22:00 on Tuesday.

“There are hundreds, not thousands of people in the area,” he said.

Some animals have also since been evacuated.

PICS: Fire ravages Somerset West

Tessa van Leeuwen from the Drakenstein farm watch said all the horses were evacuated in Sir Lowry’s park.

“We have been evacuating a lot of horses, a lot of cows and a lot of sheep,” she said.

Van Leeuwen said that Lourensford farm was earlier believed to be in need of evacuation, but this was no longer the case.

Fires have been raging in Somerset West since Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday afternoon fires were believed to be under control, but afternoon winds fuelled the blaze.

The N2 has also been closed for all incoming and outgoing traffic.

Police have also closed Sir Lowry’s Pass to traffic.

Members of the public are requested to donate energy bars and tin foil for the fire-fighters to the Hottentots Holland Dutch Reform church in Somerset West.

LIVE: Somerset West battles raging bush fire

Trevor Wyborn from the Wilderness Search and Rescue said that the neighbourhood watch groups of Strand and Somerset West have been activated to assist with evacuations in the region.

“It is not an open call for people to come. We don’t want anybody with a 4×4 to come drive on the mountain, we have more than enough people here,” Wyborn told News24 from the petrol station in Somerset West where volunteers were gathering.

According to Wyborn, roughly 20 volunteer vehicles have been dispatched to the area.

The City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Theo Lane told News24 earlier that helicopters had to be withdrawn due to the high winds and turbulence near the mountains.

http://m.news24.com/news24/SouthAfrica/News/evacuations-in-somerset-west-ongoing-20170103

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Help needed to care for animals rescued in fires

 / 12 January 2017, 10:14pm
Dominic Adriaanse

SAFE: One of the animals rescued during the fire in Glencairn. Picture: Facebook

ORGANISATIONS which helped in the rescue and evacuation of animals during fires in the province over the past week need assistance in caring for them.

Tessa Leeuwen Boomkamp, 24, co-ordinated the evacuation of horses and other animals during the Lourensford fires in Somerset West and Paarl.

“My family and I volunteered in the Drakenstein Farm Watch organisation, which also volunteered with fire and rescue operations in the Cape Winelands area.

“A friend in Somerset (West) messaged me and asked what we could do. I messaged an emergency worker friend who added my number to a WhatsApp group and people started contacting me.”

She said things took off from there as she began co-ordinating rescue missions. She said the mistakes made and learnt from in the Lourensford fire rescue helped prepare them for the Paarl fires.

“We have many animals to care for and also need assistance for firefighters working to quell the fires on both sides of our mountain. We welcome donations and can be reached on Drakensteinfw@gmail.com or our Facebook page,” said Leeuwen Boomkamp.

The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) has taken in about 50 animals from the Ocean View and Simon’s Town areas, said spokesperson Tracy Gilpin.

“We work closely with the SPCA and have a full-time vet on duty, but this has taken a huge strain on our resources. The animals vary from indigenous wildlife to strays and pets, and anyone who lost their pets in the chaos should reach out to us.”

She encouraged donors and pet owners to email TEARS at tears@tears.or.za or call 021 785 4482.

The city’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Theo Layne said wind intensity and direction may cause the fires to flare-up and spread.

“Currently, 160 city firefighters, 80 Table Mountain National Parks, 55 Working on Fire, 14 City Nature Conservation firefighters, two SANDF helicopters and one from Table Mountain National Park resumed water bombing flare-ups on the upper slopes of the mountain. Crews will remain on the scene for the remainder of the day and night monitoring the area,” said Layne.

He said the rescue crews were “blown away” by the generosity shown by the people of the province during this time, but cautioned that perishable items they received were more than their teams could handle.

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/help-needed-to-care-for-animals-rescued-in-fires-2096843

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Firefighters battle fourth fire in five days

 / 10 January 2017, 10:06pm
Dominic Adriaanse

UNSTOPPABLE: One of the properties destroyed during the fire. Picture: Justin Sullivan
THE REMAINS: Fire and Rescue workers go through debris on one of the guest farms gutted during Monday night’s fire in Paarl. Picture: Justin Sullivan

MORE than 160 firefighters were deployed to fight the blaze which erupted in Paarl late on Monday evening and destroyed nearly three guest farms.

Drakenstein Farm Watch and Paarl Fire and Rescue Operations chairperson, Daan van Leeuwen Boomkamp, said the fire originated in the Paarl Mountains.

Their team of 150 volunteers assisted the local fire department.

“It started near the Du Toitskloof Pass, quickly spread to the Limietberg Plantation after strong gale winds sent the flames downhill in the direction of Wellington. This is the fourth fire in five days we have been fighting in the area and we cannot rule out arson because of the sporadic origins of these fires. Last night many of the people did not not even know there was a fire on the mountain and we used our sirens to wake many of them,” said Van Leeuwen Boomkamp.

However, they did not win the battle as the Augusta Kleinbosch and Druk My Niet guest houses and many of their cottages were engulfed in flames.

“Five people were believed to have perished in a fire, but were later discovered to have escape the blaze. Last night (Monday) a fire- fighter pulled a women from the burning structure, she broke free and re-entered for four occupants still inside. ,” said Van Leeuwen Boomkamp.

It was later discovered nobody had perished in the fires.

He said lives were saved due to the combined efforts of all the fire and rescue services, emergency services, police and ADT security. One of their members used social media to co-ordinate the rescue and evacuation of animals and horses, similar to what was done last week.

The Lourensford farm fires also flared up due to strong winds yesterday, as 107 city Firefighters aided by 50 Working on Fire and 12 Nature Conservation teams monitored the situation.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said 50 people were evacuated and are being housed at a nearby school and no fatalities have been reported.

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Paarl fire: ‘We tried to save what we could’

 / 11 January 2017, 10:00am
Siyabonga Kalipa
The Druk My Niet farm Picture: Ian Landsberg

Cape Town  – About 150 people have had to be evacuated from their homes following a fire that started on Monday night in the Drakenstein area.

Farmworker Karen Johannesen said their house burnt down in the flames. “We were sleeping when it broke out and we ran out and tried to get things out. We didn’t manage to get anything. We’re still wearing the same clothes as last night,” she said.

She said the fire started in the mountains and the strong winds fanned the flames. “We just smelled smoke and we woke up and tried to save what we could.”

With her children due to start school on Wednesday, she said, she doesn’t know what she will do about uniforms and stationery.

Joandra Johannesen and her mother Karin were among those who lost their homes in the Paarl fire. Picture: Henk Kruger

Druk My Niet Wine Estate winemaker Alex Mcfarlane said all their guests escaped the fire unharmed and were taken to alternative accommodation around Paarl.

“We lost most of our guest houses, the owner’s home and a wine cellar,” said Mcfarlane.

She said the cause of the fire was not known and the farm had yet to assess the damage.

Drakenstein fire service spokesperson Derrick Peceur said on Tuesday their teams were still busy battling the blaze near Wellington where it was not yet contained.

He said 13 structures were affected by the fire and 150 people were evacuated to Dal Josafat Primary School to get away from the smoke and the heat.

Peceur said the evacuation was a safety precaution due to temperatures reaching the high 30s which, coupled with the heat from the fire, posed a health risk. Teams would remain on site throughout the night, he said.

Peceur said they had not yet established the cause of the fire and the damage assessment was still under way.

Paarl Incident Command Post spokesperson Justin Lawrence said on Tuesday that firefighters were still battling the fire which started before midnight on Monday on the Du Toitskloof Mountain.

Due to strong south-easterly winds the fire moved in the direction of the Newtown and Perdeskoen areas.

He said firefighting crews from the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Drankenstein Municipality, CapeNature, Working on Fire and the West Coast District Municipality were working together to put out the blaze.

Lawrence said about 250ha of vegetation had been burnt, while structures had also been lost in the fire by Tuesday morning, but no deaths or injuries had been reported.

ADT Security’s district manager Verena Hulme said: “The brave men and women of Drakenstein Farm Watch are heroes. They put their own lives at risk to immediately work with other firefighters to get residents out of harm’s way.”

“We have tasked our armed response officers in the area to assist wherever they can, and to keep an eye on homes that might be unoccupied right now to prevent any looting.”

The Helderberg fire that broke out last week was still burning after the strong winds sparked flare-ups of hot spots.

On Tuesday morning the city’s fire and rescue spokesperson, Liezel Moodie, said: “Somerset West Fire and 107 City firefighters were assisted by 50 Working on Fire and 12 Nature Conservation staff as well as three helicopters. Currently ground crews are monitoring areas as well as attending to hot spots and flare-ups.”

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News | Evacuations in Somerset West ongoing

Cape Town – Areas in Somerset West are being evacuated after wildfires damaged several homes in the area, an eyewitness confirmed.

“They are currently evacuating people in the Knorhoek Valley,” Somerset West resident Wallace du Plessis told News24 at 22:00 on Tuesday.

“There are hundreds, not thousands of people in the area,” he said.

Some animals have also since been evacuated.

PICS: Fire ravages Somerset West

Tessa van Leeuwen from the Drakenstein farm watch said all the horses were evacuated in Sir Lowry’s park.

“We have been evacuating a lot of horses, a lot of cows and a lot of sheep,” she said.

Van Leeuwen said that Lourensford farm was earlier believed to be in need of evacuation, but this was no longer the case.

Fires have been raging in Somerset West since Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday afternoon fires were believed to be under control, but afternoon winds fuelled the blaze.

The N2 has also been closed for all incoming and outgoing traffic.

Police have also closed Sir Lowry’s Pass to traffic.

Members of the public are requested to donate energy bars and tin foil for the fire-fighters to the Hottentots Holland Dutch Reform church in Somerset West.

LIVE: Somerset West battles raging bush fire

Trevor Wyborn from the Wilderness Search and Rescue said that the neighbourhood watch groups of Strand and Somerset West have been activated to assist with evacuations in the region.

“It is not an open call for people to come. We don’t want anybody with a 4×4 to come drive on the mountain, we have more than enough people here,” Wyborn told News24 from the petrol station in Somerset West where volunteers were gathering.

According to Wyborn, roughly 20 volunteer vehicles have been dispatched to the area.

The City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Theo Lane told News24 earlier that helicopters had to be withdrawn due to the high winds and turbulence near the mountains.

Source: News24Wire

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ADT Security has joined forces with a specialised farm watch

ADT LAUNCHES EXCITING NEW INTIATIVE TO CFarm dwellers in the Klein Drakenstein district can sleep safer tonight in the knowledge that their farm watch now has direct access to the infrastructure and network used by a major private security service provider.

A new joint venture partnership between ADT Security and the Klein Drakenstein Farm Watch was announced recently, the first time that ADT Security has joined forces with a specialised farm watch in the area.

According to ADT District Manager: Cape Town North, Verena Hulme, the collaboration will allow the Klein Drakenstein Farm Watch to leverage off the established security services network of ADT.

“The watch will be able to access the ADT Northern Suburbs Community Control Room in Durbanville and all affiliated services such as armed response and emergency and medical services 24/7”, she said. In addition all ADT patrols in Paarl will be linked in real time to the Klein Drakenstein Farm Watch, via radio monitoring.

“The Klein Drakenstein Farm Watch, which was formed in 2009 by farm residents, looks after the security of its members situated in the rural area of Paarl, which contains more than 600 farms and holdings”, said its Chairman, Daan Van Leeuwen Boomkamp. The watch is privately funded and well equipped to handle tasks ranging from firefighting and medical assistance to crime prevention. Its funding is also supplemented by donations from the broader public.

“We are excited about the partnership with ADT as it will allow us to enhance our operations and improve our response time. Having a world class security service provider behind you means that we now have the resources to effectively tackle crimes on farms,” he added.

“Farms play an important role in creating stable jobs for many people in Paarl. If we do not clamp down on criminal activities it can have a devastating effect on our community,” said Hulme.

She added that owners of large properties such as farms and estates could improve their perimeter security through implementing various safety measures aimed at keeping intruders at bay.

Some of these include:

• Installing a CCTV network that monitors the premises around the clock and is linked to an armed response company.
• Raising property fences to discourage opportunistic trespassers and prevent passers-by from observing and monitoring activities and assets on your property by ensuring views are obscured from the roadside.
• Working with a security provider who can offer a security service that meets your farm or business’ needs.
• Security dogs can play an important role in securing larger properties – while they hoard off potential criminals activity, they also serve to keep their owners alert.

http://showme.co.za/cape-town/news/business-news/adt-launches-exciting-new-intiative-to-c/

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