So, with the end of January fast approaching, the Cape Peninsula’s fire season is in full swing again.
I posted last year on the havoc that a small uncontained fire on some open areas near the office park wreaked on the afternoon scrummage on the N2 leaving the CBD but, us city-dwellers have it comparatively good. The rural areas have it far worse. Case in point: the Hermanus/Stanford area (just over an hour’s drive away, unless you foolishly attempt it on a Friday afternoon when everyone going away for the weekend has the same general idea) had a massive blaze over the Christmas and New Year period that took six days to contain (and did significant damage to the Hermanus Yacht Club). The photos posted on the South African Weather Observation and Disaster Service blog pretty much say it all.
Today, the mountains separating Stellenbosch from Franschhoek is Ground Zero. Megan (who I mentioned in one of my ancient posts here) took this photo earlier today from the University of Stellenbosch’s Danie Craven Stadium, and has been kind enough to let me reproduce it here. Once again, the photo tells the story.
Yup, it can (and does!) get pretty bad around here. I was given a guided tour of one of the Stellenbosch wine farms around nine months ago, and I recall our tour guide mentioning that all of the area’s wine farmers have a genuine fear of blazes such as this. Not really surprising.
The fire situation around this time of year is problematic enough that the provincial government has published a brief “what-if?” guide. Still, prevention is better than cure here: please don’t be the person who sets the next one off. If you habitually smoke and toss your cigarette butt out of your car window, I’m looking at you here…
So, Development was (for the most part) working away nicely on a Friday afternoon, when we noticed a plume of smoke outside the window. Of course, the thought of a field trip was irresistible, so we all climbed the fire escape to the building roof, and noticed this:
Yes, that’s a veld fire in the District Six area. Obviously, we don’t know what caused it, but as everything in Cape Town is extremely dry after some pretty intense heat that we’ve been having lately, it probably wouldn’t take much for a cigarette end carelessly flicked out of some motorist’s window to set that off.
Of course, this being Cape Town, the wind blew the fire across the road:
Now, for those unfamiliar with the area, just behind that other building in the office park lies the N2 freeway. Hate to think what visibility is like for those motorists right now.
And then of course, the smoke plume gets blown over towards the CBD:
Two things to consider: the aforementioned visibility problem on the N2 (which you can’t even see in the above shot!), and the fact that it’s now 15:30 and people are starting to bugger off from work.
Rush hour this afternoon is going to be FUN.
(At least I leave the office at 18:00 and drive AWAY from the fire…)