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Forensic expert David Klatzow not convinced vagrant behind Table Mountain blaze

19 April 2021 11:58 AM
Tags:
UCT
SANParks
Rhodes Memorial
Table mountain fire
David Klatzow
Dr David Klatzow
fire investigation

Forensic investigator David Klatzow says UCT officials and SANParks management must be taken to task in a formal fire investigation.

Klatzow says he does not accept the blame that is being placed on a vagrant who is suspected to have started one of the fires on Table Mountain.

A 33-year-old suspect has been arrested and is currently in SAPS custody, according to the City of Cape Town's JP Smith.

RELATED: 'When the officer asked him he said, but I started the fire' - JP Smith

Klatzow claims that SANParks management has failed to properly prevent the spread of a wildfire in the past.

He says SANParks did not respond adequately to the fire which started in Pecks Valley and spread to Hout Bay in 2015.

Klatzow says SANParks management needs to be taken to task about their vegetation maintenance and clearing in the Rhodes Memorial area.

He says pine trees and lack of proper fire breaks may have contributed to the spread of the current fire.

Klatzow also says he's been informed about claims that the fire hydrants on the mountain are poorly functional.

In addition, he believes that increased SANParks security is needed on the mountain to deter criminal elements such as arsonists.

The investigator says UCT management also needs to answer about the efficiency of its fire systems and whether or not enough was done by the institution to fire-proof its buildings.

I am not prepared to at this stage accept that "Oh oops, it was a vagrant setting the fire"... There's a lot of criminality on that mountain.

Dr David Klatzow

The fire got to UCT very simply because the management of the vegetation on the western side of UCT was neglected... There are pine trees all over the place and once they get going, they are a danger to life and limb in a fire.

Dr David Klatzow

Why were there no proper firebreaks on that border next to the tennis courts?

Dr David Klatzow

Did UCT upgrade its own fire systems? Did they clear their gutters of vegetation debris which inevitably blows onto the roof? If they didn't, there's your cause of the fire getting so easily onto the library roof.

Dr David Klatzow

There are lots of questions that need to be asked and this problem needs to be fully, fully, fully investigated. You can't have a major facility like this burn down like this and say, "Oh, oops. It was a vagrant". There need to be proper investigations.

Dr David Klatzow

Once you get a fire going, however small, on a mountain, often the conditions on the mountain are ideal for the propagation of that fire in a way that is difficult to control.

Dr David Klatzow

Fire loves spreading uphill. If there's a wind, they love spreading uphill even more. Once you've got that fire going, the terrain is difficult to get at.

Dr David Klatzow

Listen to the discussion on Today with Kieno Kammies:




19 April 2021 11:58 AM
Tags:
UCT
SANParks
Rhodes Memorial
Table mountain fire
David Klatzow
Dr David Klatzow
fire investigation

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