The risk of bush and forest fires

mountain fire

On 18 April 2021, Cape Town faced a catastrophic fire on the slopes of Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain. We also recall the devastating and catastrophic fires in Cape St Frances and George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay areas in 2018. In this blog post, we look at the impact of these fires on nearby properties.

The risk

It is most notable that the properties and buildings in these areas are highly exposed to run-away bush and forest fires; more so where the property may be on the very fringe of nature and mountain reserves. The risk is worsened when strong winds prevail and then fires become out of control and spread more rapidly.

Regulations

There are regulations and by-laws governing the control of fires in these forestry and bushveld areas, not least of which relate to facilitation of fire breaks and clearance of certain species of vegetation. The matter of enforcement and maintenance is another point of debate.

Equipment needed

Over and above being compliant with National Building Regulations as it relates to the nature and type of fire-extinguishing equipment you should have on the property, what should property owners do to best be prepared and protected?

Clearing vegetation

It is quite clear that, if you are exposed to these risks, you should carefully assess the nature and type of vegetation surrounding your property, working with the local authorities and neighbouring property owners to keep it in check. It is not advisable to allow overgrowth of alien vegetation and large trees to grow right alongside the wall and fences of your property. It may even be prudent to consider removing certain large and combustible trees, for example Pines, Eucalyptus, Port Jackson, large palms from within the property. Large fires can be carried on strong winds and can easily spread from tree to tree.

This article is by no means advice on absolute prevention of fire damage but specific to assisting with mitigation of loss, where possible.

Author: Brian Addison

Addsure is South Africa’s leading sectional title insurance brokerage. Obtain fit and proper advice from advisors who understand sectional title. Contact our head office, Cape Town (021) 551 5069 who will put you directly in touch with one of our nationwide advisors.