Saturday, January 28, 2006


UK man in court over Cape blaze.

Smoke from the blaze on Table Mountain shrouds Cape Town. A British tourist in South Africa has appeared in a Cape Town court in connection with a fatal fire. Another British visitor died in the blaze that swept across the slopes of Table Mountain on Thursday. Anthony Cooper, 36, from Brighton, faces charges of arson and culpable homicide. He was freed on bail.

The fire has now been brought under control, after causing residents to flee their homes, destroying bush and engulfing the city centre in smoke. The blaze killed an elderly British woman, who is thought to have died of smoke inhalation. A South African police spokeswoman said the victim's family had requested that her name not be released. A tourist guide was quoted as saying he had witnessed a man flicking a cigarette-end out of a car window in the area where the fire is believed to have started. The guide noted the car registration number and informed the police.

More than 150 firefighters struggled on Thursday afternoon to fight the blaze, which was fanned by strong winds. Helicopters dropping water were hampered by the winds and poor visibility.
Correspondents say bush fires caused by dry conditions and strong winds are common in South Africa's Western Cape province at this time of year, but this fire was notable for being so close to the centre of Cape Town and in a major tourist area. Table Mountain is one of South Africa's most popular attractions for visitors. The cable car service that takes visitors to the summit has been suspended as a result of the fire.


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