Skeleton Gorge Fire News

If you live in or around the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, you’ll likely have seen or heard the fire helicopters doing their work on a fire in Skeleton Gorge yesterday afternoon and again this morning.

I don’t have any statistics to hand, but many of the wildfires in the Cape Town area are caused by humans: either maliciously (arson) or accidentally (carelessly discarded cigarette butts, glass bottles etc). As this fire was in an area which is frequented by hikers, I was guess that this one was going to be one of these accidental ignitions.

But no.

Enviro fire investigators were tasked by the Table Mountain National Park to investigate the origin and cause of the fire that started around 15h00 in the Skeleton Gorge area. We can confirm on behalf of SANParks that the cause of this fire was as a result of a massive rock fall that caused huge amounts of heat and sparks to be generated when the falling boulders struck other rocks, setting the grass and leaves alight which then quickly spread up the steep slope. 

Wow. Nature is out to kill us, even when we’re not out trying to kill Nature.

I find it incredible that heat and sparks from a rockfall could trigger a wildfire, but if it could happen (which it clearly can) then bone-dry Cape Town is the perfect candidate for it right now.

As proven yesterday.

Documenting the fires

(…and lots of other stuff too.)

I first noticed Sullivan Photography when Justin Sullivan (for it is he) took some images of some gratuitous violence on the UCT campus during the recent ‘Fees Must Fall’ protests. But as a documentary photographer, he’s been concentrating on the wildfires that plague the Cape region at this time of year, and he’s come up with some more gems from Somerset West overnight.

These were snaffled from Facebook, so the image quality won’t be all that, but the composition, the drama and the devastation is all too clear to see.

The latest reports from the Somerset West fire this morning suggest that it is still far from under control, and with high temperatures and strong winds forecast for the rest of the day, the firefighters have got their work cut out for them. Again.

UPDATE: Here [facebook link] are some more of Justin’s photos from this morning.