Coastal residents in South Africa evacuated due to bushfires

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Residents of small coastal towns near Cape Town, South Africa, were evacuated as wildfires descended from the mountains and spiraled out of control for a second day.

Authorities ordered a complete evacuation of Pringle Bay, a coastal village popular with holidaymakers located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Cape Town. They also evacuated parts of the nearby town of Betty Bay on Monday.

Bushfires are common in the mountains surrounding Cape Town and other coastal locations during the austral summer, but a complete evacuation of the city is unusual.

The fires broke out on Monday, fueled by hot, dry weather and strong coastal winds. Annelie Rabie, mayor of the Overstrand municipality covering the towns, said at least six fires had broken out. He added that four of them were contained or extinguished, but one was moving directly towards Pringle Bay.

The Overstrand government said some homes were destroyed. No injuries were reported, but authorities issued a code red, meaning the fire poses a serious and immediate danger to people and their property.

The government said about 95 percent of a nearby nature reserve was damaged.

Pringle Bay residents moved to a nearby town as firefighters struggled to control the flames. Helicopters collected water from the ocean and dropped it on the fires, a common practice in the area.

Fires have broken out in several parts of the Western Cape, including a fire on the slopes of the famous Table Mountain, which overlooks Cape Town. This was quickly brought under control.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment said firefighters were battling fires in four areas in the Western Cape, one of which broke out nine days ago.

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The main causes of fires are discarded cigarette butts, kitchen fires, and sometimes arson, according to the provincial government. Coastal winds fan the flames and sometimes make them unpredictable.

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