JOHANNESBURG — Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain was engulfed by an orange blaze Monday, blowing thick smoke to the city below, as a wildfire burned across the city's southern peninsula, destroying at least five homes and thousands of acres of rare plants.
The fire, fanned by strong winds and intensified by hot summer temperatures, challenged hundreds of firefighters, aided by volunteers, who battled to control it, according to the South African Press Association.
Helicopters scooped water from the Atlantic Ocean, and dumped it on elevated areas around Table Mountain National Park which fire trucks have not been able to reach, said emergency services spokeswoman Liezl Moodie said.
No one has been killed and no serious injuries were recorded, Moodie said. About 50 people were treated for smoke inhalation, the press association reported.
The five star Tintswalo Atlantic beach lodge was overcome by the fire and residents and staff evacuated in the early hours of the morning. Unable to go near the burned property, the lodge's owners said on their Facebook page that they estimate that 80 percent of the luxurious seaside resort has been destroyed.
Residents near the fire were asked to evacuate their homes, including three retirement villages, the press association said. The fire has affected the suburbs of Noordhoek, Muizenburg and Hout Bay. Roads in the area have been closed, including Chapman's Peak Drive.
The fire started Sunday and was brought under control but then a bigger fire started after 2 a.m. on Monday, said the press association.
Wildfires are common in Cape Town, sometimes damaging the protected nature reserve around the iconic Table Mountain, and affecting Cape Town's city center, at the foot of the mountain.