South African National Space Agency’s (SANSA) Fire Investigations: Western Cape Fire Near Wolseley

SANSA’S Earth Observation (EO) expert fire investigation team have recently released the assessment and analysis report of the fire that ravaged the area near Wolseley in the Western Cape from 22 – 30 January 2024. This report was generated with the aid of available satellite imagery and satellite data; investigating areas where the fire started, establishing the probable time when the fire started along with the progression of the fire and the eventual fire scar.

The report consists of detailed satellite data such as illustrated in figure 1 and 2 below that exposes the details of the fire and the area under investigation. The approximate area of the fire scar (in red) is 4 576.0 ha. The fire in red expanded towards 25 January 2024 (indicated in blue in fire 2) to an approximate area of 7 596.1 ha. The final scar of this fire was approximate 24 457.4 ha

 Figure 1 – MODIS image of 22 January 2024 at 10:25. The farm boundaries are in the yellow lines and the red lines indicate the superimposed fire scar of 23 January 2024 on the image.

Figure 2 – Sentinel-2 image of 25 January 2024 at 10:22. The farm boundaries are in the yellow lines and the blue lines indicate the superimposed fire scar on the image.

SANSA’s EO Sensor portfolio has generated reports from satellite data for different stakeholders in the public and private sector, from the mining industry, farming, and insurance sector to resolve fire and irrigation disputes in court. SANSA can provide clients with historic data of specific fire scars, according to a client’s individual request. The fire scar mapping expert investigates the fire event using a minimum of two images, one prior to the event and another post-event. The images selected are constrained by the revisit times of the sensor, and as a result a mix of sensors (Sentinel2 and VIIRS, Landsat, MODIS and Meteosat) may be considered.

SANSA has produced over 300 fire investigations since 2005. A fire investigation reveals the of the origin, time and spread of a fire through integration of various types of satellite imagery. Clients can obtain Fire Investigation report from SANSA at a fee, quotations can be requested from customer services.

Wolseley fire detailed report can be obtained for FREE through SANSA’s customer services by emailing the team at

Khumbulani Mkhize