Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Cape Town Burns...

A rather different piece today, but it relates to Cape Town so I better write about the events happening here over the past 24 hours.

Late last night, as I was sitting at my laptop online, a fire broke out on Devil's Peak, the mountain that towers above my house. This is on the other side (the Southern Suburbs) from the world-famous view of Table Mountain and Devil's Peak. But as the wind was strong last night, blowing from the south-east, the fire quickly spread around to the city side of the mountain, threatening lives and property.

Oblivious to the fire raging a couple of kilometres away, I headed to bed. Only to be awoken at 00h30 by my Dad who told me to get my camera and come upstairs. Rather groggy, I roused myself from my bed and went upstairs, to be met by a sight that is both inspiring and scary. There were flames going all the way up the mountain from Rhodes Memorial (near the University of Cape Town) to the summit at 1,000 metres (about 3,000 feet) above sea-level. Also visible were the red flashing lights of numerous fire trucks on the mountain, fighting the flames. If a fire of this magnitude broke out during the day, helicopters with bambi buckets would be dispatched. However, due to the hazards of flying in close proximity to a mountain at night, they had to wait till first light at 07h00.

During the night houses in close proximity to the blaze were evacuated while firefighters battled to save property. But their battle was successful as no homes were destroyed. Although sadly a homeless couple who were sleeping in some bushes were seriously burned and the man later died in a Cape Town hospital.

The fire is not yet under control and Cape Town Fire Services are closely monitoring the situation. If the wind gets up or changes direction things could get worse. Driving back from cell group a few minutes ago (22h00) I could see all the embers and fires still burning on the slopes of the mountain, and the tiny fire engines rushing around, lights flashing. I am so thankful for these brave men and women who risk their own lives to save others. They are heroes.

The photos above are of the fire (as seen from my upstairs window) at 00h30 last night, and then again at 06h30 this morning when I woke for work. The photo below is from the front page of a Cape Town newspaper, and really gives you an idea how huge this fire is. Part of the city is in the foreground.

1 comment:

Kimberly Haugen said...

It's frightening to watch as fires rage out of control. I remember watching the fires from my flat in Somerset West a couple of years ago as they raged above Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. Praying they get this under control and the winds calm down, as well as for the safety of the firefighters. Thanks for the photos.