Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ocean View Fire

As I was driving today a plume of smoke above the mountains between Kommetjie (Atlantic Ocean side of the peninsula) and False Bay kept growing. Fire in fynbos is neither new nor necessarily a bad thing. Fynbos requires fire for regeneration and germination, but repeat burns can be harmful. 

The real problem is people: our vulnerable homes and bodies, our tossed cigarette butts, our braai fires, and our invasive alien vegetation, in some cases; trees like pines burn hotter and longer than fynbos, making fires harder to control or fight.

Close to the  residential area of Glencairn the fire was fierce. 

Now loaded down with some crates of water bottles for firefighters - many of whom are volunteers - I drove up Glen Road looking for an assembly point to drop them off before getting out of the way. I found a Disaster Management team, asked them where they wanted the water, and they helped off-load, sending some up the hill, and the rest down. From them, big smiles and polite words. The air was crackling, and they were very cool and organized. Then I left.

Flats housing military personnel (there is a naval base at Simonstown) are in the middle of the picture.

In the five minutes it had taken me to do this drop off the smoke had thickened. Local residents were wearing cloths around their faces. Streets were being closed.

Once out, at the foot again of Glen Road, this new plume was dominating the blue Cape sky.

The turquoise waves of the little Glencairn Beach beneath the increasing smoke.

Heading home up the M6 again, the spot where I had stopped 15 minutes before was now filled with cars and photographers, watching. The fire was bigger and hotter.

It did not look good. The valiant waterbombers, scooping sea water from Kommetjie (away to the right) were now bombing this nearest line. The wind had picked up. The summers are dry.

Current reports say that the fire has headed towards well-populated Simonstown and the Volunteer Wildlife Service says that Da Gama Park is safe again.*

How to help:

- You can drop off water, energy drinks and power bars at the VWS station in Newlands. Individual size bottles preferred
- You can donate directly to them via EFT:

Volunteer Wildfire Services
Branch: Foreshore
Branch Code: 108309
Account Number: 1083321226

- You can sign up for a MySchool MyPlanet card. every swipe will benefit them if they are your designated beneficiary.

Other fire news and information:

City Activates Disaster Ops Centre

- My friend Rupert Koopman, who is Cape Nature's resident botanist, interviewed on fynbos and fire (not discussing this fire)

- Volunteer Wildfire Services Facebook page - updates


  1. I evacuated from a wildfire near my cabin in Colorado last summer. Those fires are fascinating and frightening. And the firefighters are Awesome. Stay safe. It is a treat (?) to see such raw energy in action, although also horrifying.

  2. Stay safe Marie! Sending good thoughts to the firefighters...such courage!


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