Let’s go for a hike!

I touched on the fires rampaging through the Western Cape a few days ago. They’re still burning out of control, despite the best efforts of many hundreds of firefighters, landowners and other stakeholders. Two major ones I’m watching at the moment are the one at Die Dam, and the one between Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay.

Die Dam has been burning for 3 days now and has spread into two separate fires, one heading west towards Pearly Beach, and one heading east towards Rietfontein. The Suiderstrand group has been alive with chatter about this since it began, especially given the unfortunate incident in the village a few years back. And so I was a bit confused when one of the ladies on the group mentioned that she “could see smoke” from her house.

I mean, yes Margaret. We all can.
That’ll be the absolutely massive fire just up the coast that everyone – including you, Margaret! – has been talking about for the past 72 hours.

Give me strength.

But even Margaret wouldn’t be as daft as some people in the other fire. Sure, you have your “disaster tourists”, the ones who turn up and get in the way of the firefighters by trying to get photos to improve their social media clout, and they’re annoying.

But then there were also messages from the authorities asking people not to hike in the affected areas.

Seriously, who looks at scenes like this as they’re driving through:

And then continues to park in the village, which looks like this:

And then heads off into the veld that looks like this?

Simply adding to the number of people the firefighters have got to look out for or save.

How many poor decisions do you have to take, one after the other, to get to that point?

Really, who needs to be told not to wander into the big, out of control fire?

And yet…

It’s the walking equivalent of the camouflaged cyclists.

Darwin Award nominees, all of them.

Honestly. Let them burn.

Day 563 – Fire down south

We weren’t in Agulhas this weekend, but since late this morning, we’ve been following the progress of a bushfire in Struisbaai, from afar.

Google Maps’ new wildfire layer isn’t active here yet (or anywhere else?), so this is from AFIS. And despite some of the blocks covering some of the houses, thanks to the work of the Overberg FPA and their firefighting pals, nothing of value has been damaged. Yet.

May be an image of standing, fire and outdoors

“Yet” because the fire is still not under control:

This fire has a high risk of further spread. Wind conditions are not favourable.

It’s likely to spread west, driven by the strong northeasterly wind that’s blowing down there at the moment. And that’s bad news for the Agulhas National Park and – potentially – for Suiderstrand (red dot):

…both of which which lie pretty much due west of Struisbaai.

I’ll be keeping a sharp eye on the official information channels over night, and hoping that the firefighters can get access to somewhere in front of the line and get a hold on the fire.

Safe out, guys.

* second image via Top Coastal Security

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.