Heat wave forces cancellation of school sport

SIZZLING SIGHT: A firefighter walks along the edge of a blazing bush fire in Summerstrand yesterday. Picture: Eugene Coetzee
SIZZLING SIGHT: A firefighter walks along the edge of a blazing bush fire in Summerstrand yesterday. Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Scorching conditions and high discomfort levels led to the cancellation of outdoor sporting events at dozens of Port Elizabeth schools yesterday.

Firefighters were also still battling to put out a bush fire near Gomery Avenue in Summerstrand last night.

With the mercury rising to a sizzling 39°C in the city, a string of schools confirmed that all sporting activities had been cancelled due to the heat. Uitenhage was even hotter at 41°C. The sweltering temperatures and discomfort index levels [DCI] also soared elsewhere. Patensie and Coega hit 41°C and 39°C respectively, while DCI levels were sky high, with only two areas – Coega (98) and Plettenberg Bay (91) – falling below the 100 mark.

Addo recorded a DCI of 112, while Port Elizabeth and Patensie registered 109.

St Marks Community School principal the Rev Andrew Lamont Turner said all outdoor sporting activities were called off due to the heat. “We don’t allow our pupils to play sport when the heat is this intense,” he said.

New Brighton’s Charles Duna Primary School principal, Nombulelo Sume, said non-profit organisation United Through Sport, which had been due to visit yesterday to coach numerous codes including soccer, cricket and netball, had called off the session.

She said six pupils had suffered nosebleeds from the heat.

Algoa Park’s Diaz Primary principal, Fred van Zyl, said the school had a policy to cancel sport if the weather was too hot.

“We can’t take a risk with our pupils. We take health and safety very seriously,” he said.

Grey High rector Neil Crawford said the school had issued a warning to its staff and pupils about the weather and urged them to stay well hydrated.

Meanwhile, a fire and emergency services official said last night the fire in Summerstrand was still burning and they were monitoring the situation.

He said they had received a call about the fire shortly before 3pm.

“It was very difficult for our vehicles to get to the actual area where the fire is burning as the bush is quite thick,” he said.

“I cannot say exactly how the fire started, but with the intense heat we had in the city, it cannot be ruled out [as a factor] at this stage.”

Port Elizabeth SA Weather Services spokesman Garth Sampson said temperatures were expected to be more comfortable today along the coast but the interior could still expect hot conditions.

He said no significant rainfall was expected over the next seven days.

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