This is a tribute to all South African firefighters, disaster management and emergency rescue personnel… to all the volunteers and the grateful public who help where they can. Cape Town’s fire which is still burning saw volunteers with Working with Fire come from as far as the Free State and Eastern Cape provinces.
The following photos of the big fire that started on Sunday around Ou Kaapse Weg (Old Cape Road) in Cape Town’s southern peninsula, and still rages at the time of writing, come from social media, so a thank you to the photographers for sharing them.
Social media has also been full of posts and photos showing and shaming vehicles where one of the occupants has thrown a lighted cigarette butt out the window, notwithstanding the very-visible inferno on the mountains. That’s a good thing — it shows concerned citizens — because mindless stupidity cannot be tolerated.
But we must also realise that what we are seeing is nature’s normal cycle of events. We live in an area of astounding biodiversity — the Cape Floral Kingdom — the smallest yet richest of the world’s six Floral Kingdoms. And Cape Town is uniquely situated with a National Park at its core.
Our unique fynbos needs fire to regenerate, and it needs that fire every 14 years or so. So fire will always be part and parcel of the Western Cape. Cape Town’s last really big fire was in 2000 – when it swept up from Simon’s Town to Hout Bay. So this year’s fire could have been anticipated — it was almost overdue.
Doesn’t this make a case for more planned and controlled fires in future? Or better fire breaks if nature must be allowed to take it’s course because one of the major threats to fynbos is too-frequent fires — it does not allow for seed beds to mature.