Thursday, 5 March 2015

Fire on the homefront


The relentless Cape Town fire has had the mountain sides above the Southern Peninsula areas of Kirstenhof, Noordhoek, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, St James, Muizenberg, Clovelly and even Cape Point ablaze.


Fire as seen behind my house and neighbours.
Out on a beautiful Sunday evening having a good time, Philip and I noticed a small orange glow about Muizenberg. We wondered if it was a small fire or perhaps one super strong torch light. To our despair it turns out that it was the Cape Town fire starting out which would unknowingly cause havoc throughout the Deep South.

Having lived with my family in the beautiful and peaceful suburb of Clovelly since the year of 2001, it feels very much like home. I have always loved the feeling of solace I find here.


On Tuesday morning my mother called me at work to tell me that the fire that had hit Clovelly the previous night was now starting to escalate. My kind boss Sabine told me that maybe I should go home to be with my mother who was alone. I arrived to find ash on the road, car roofs and on our balcony. The back garden and Fynbos over the fence were drenched from my mother spending the day watering it. We started to pack some of our belongings as we spotted the fire getting closer for just in case we would need to leave our home. As my mother said, ''be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.'' My dad left work an hour earlier to get home.


Helicopters moved in to water bomb some flames in the afternoon along with a water-bomber plane. They were only able to spend a few precious hours before they had to retreat at dusk.


Fire from our bottom back garden.
During the night the raging fire could be seen burning its way down slowly towards us. It seemed though it was taunting us with the notion that it was on its way down to abolish our quiet suburb of Clovelly. My family and I said that we felt we were in an apocalypse movie. My mother and I kept at it watering the surrounding vegetation on the other side of the fence. Meanwhile we tried to keep news of the chaos unfolding from my sister, Naomi who is in Australia. We just didn't want her to worry. Social media made it an impossible feat though.


That night a friend, Charl kindly brought us cat boxes if we would need to evacuate. Our cats had seemed they could sense something was not right, especially the youngest who had the spent the entire time hiding underneath a blanket.


In the early hours of Wednesday morning things quickly took a turn for the worse. The fire had reached the firebreak and the hot orange flames could be seen approaching fast. The atmosphere was an eerie one where the smoke hung heavy and the flames burnt patches of Fynbos, the residents of Clovelly were uncertain of what the future of the fire held for our quaint suburb. When the sun finally appeared it was like a giant red, unfamiliar globe and things looked bleak through the smoke haze.


Tuesday night fire from top back garden.
Around 6.30ish am I noticed the house that was higher than most houses which sits as though it is a part of the trees, had flames burning fiercely high right next to it. Phil and I ran up the road to get a closer look, we decided as we got there to enter the premises to see what we could do. Upon getting up the steep driveway and the many stairs, having to cover our mouths from the smoke, we saw a fireman who shouted at us, ‘’get the people out of this house now!’’ So we entered the house and helped them take what we could. 


I ran back to my house to alert my family as to what was happening just three houses down. Having only been back five minutes then we heard a voice come over the loudspeaker to evacuate the area. We had already packed our three cars as well as Phil’s with belongings, so all that was left was to set our scared cats and the rat in a car and leave our home. We dropped the animals off at a friend’s place to be housed for the day. 


After a scary two hours we were allowed back to our homes after the firefighters and volunteers had fought to control the fire. I can honestly say I have never been so happy to see my house. Upon arriving back I took a walk up to our garden and spotted smoke not far away. We went to check it out and what we found were volunteers trying to put out a small fire. I stayed to help for an hour until I ran out of energy but Phil stayed fighting the fire for many hours.


The mountain of Clovelly is rather a black heap but there are still some green bushes and trees left. The smell of burning vegetation hangs heavy and the smoke from the smouldering bushes can still be seen. They say that Fynbos benefits from the fury of fire as it helps to germinate their seeds. Given some time Cape Town’s mountains will return to their former beauty and glory. The event of this Cape Town fire will however, remain etched into the memories of the people of the Deep South.

Seen a few hours before evacuation from our property.



2 comments :

Steve said...

I'm glad the heroic firefighters seem to have now got it under control and yes, it will return as we saw after to 2000 fire. Our friends in Nordhoek were evacuated at 2am on Tuesday but allowed to return in the morning and found no damage.

Glad you are all safe

Sabine and Alfie - Epic Enabled said...

Thank you Steve. The fire fighters are just keeping an eye out for any flare ups. I'm hoping Cape Point's fire will be out asap.