Briton arrested over fatal Table Mountain blaze

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The Independent Online

Wildfires have swept across Cape Town's landmark Table Mountain, killing an elderly British tourist, threatening upmarket suburbs and filling the city centre with smoke.

A police spokeswoman said a 36-year-old British man was arrested for allegedly starting the fires. She declined to identify him before he appeared in court today, but said that he would be charged with culpable homicide and arson.

More than 150 firefighters and three helicopters using waterbuckets struggled to contain the blazes, which started near the cable-car base. At least four houses and several cars were destroyed as the fire spread from Table Mountain to the nearby Lion's Head mountain.

The blaze, fanned by strong winds, swept up Signal Hill - a popular tourist spot - and threatened to cross into the affluent Bantry Bay suburb.

Police said a 65-year-old British woman was killed while she walked with her daughter on the mountain. Information provided by the daughter led to the arrest of the alleged arsonist, the spokeswoman added. The dead woman was not named because her family had not yet been notified.

Rescue workers found three German tourists on the mountain unharmed. Two British tourists were taken to hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. Two people were stranded on a rock below the cable car on Table Mountain but were not in immediate danger. Police said that fewer people than usual may have been on the mountain before the fires broke out because high winds had forced the closure of the cable car service.