Returning home after some weeks away, the first order of the day is catching up on local events and life round the neighbourhood. These scenes at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, are of the area impacted by a ravaging fire in early March and are so devastatingly familiar. This is an area where we often cycle and part of the cycle track goes right through the middle of this desolation and we’re gripped both by a sense of loss and awe. That the fynbos vegetation which forms part of this extraordinary Cape Floral Kingdom, is sustained and flourishes in such nutrient poor soil is remarkable. Stripped of the green foliage, the revealed soil looks much like beach sand (from quartzite). Parts look like wastelands, but in some areas green shoots are already appearing attracting browsers like buck and zebra. The geophytes, such as the red Candelabra lilies (Brunsvigia orientalis) are flowering profusely and against the burned vegetation look quite stunning. With climate change affecting local weather patterns, predictions for Cape Town are that total rainfall will decrease by between 10% – 30% over the next 50 years. Fire frequency and intensity will undoubtedly increase, putting post fire vegetation reseeding under further pressure. We’re hoping this year that the seasonal rainfall over the winter months will break the current drought cycle.
Two different views comparing the barren landscape ravaged by fire with scenes showing the growth and colours of the regenerated vegetation.
Cape of Good Hope from Hoek van Bobbejaan.
The throb of the helicopter rotors cut through the air early on Thursday morning and alerted the anxious residents to news that the fire continued to burn on the mountain slopes above Simon’s Town. In the clear light of day, the scene of devastation in the immediate vicinity was sobering let alone the full extent of it. The fire is believed to have started over the mountains in Kommetjie and it’s path of destruction has consumed many hectacres across the Southern Peninsula including the Wildland Urban Interface affecting Da Gama Park, Red Hill, Glencairn having reached Simon’s Town on Wednesday afternoon (11 January).
A change in the wind direction was expected and there is a worry that flare-ups will occur. Up to this point, one house and a garden shed were destroyed while six other homes, partially damaged. Considering the terrible conditions and the driving force of the wind it is remarkable that more homes weren’t lost and a credit of the City’s Emergency services as well as the volunteer fire-fighting crews for their vigilance and tenacity (see note below).
For more information – http://bit.ly/2inuPf6
The following noted in the above link:
“The NSRI also listed the emergency services who were deployed to fight the fires along with the NSRI teams:
- Community services
- Neighbourhood watch teams
- SA National Parks rangers
- Table Mountain National Park rangers
- City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management
- Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services
- Working on Fire
- Volunteer Wild Fire Services
- Fire helicopters
- 22 Squadron of the SA Air Force with 2 Oryx helicopters
- The SA Navy (including the Navy’s ships fire fighting teams)
- Western Cape Government Health Emergency Medical Services
- Cape Medical Response
- Community Medics
- ER24 ambulance services
- Law enforcement
- Cape Town Traffic Services
- SA Police Services
- Scores of members of the public who joined in todays effort and the fantastic community response.”