Massive fires around here, thanks to firefighters my neighbourhood escaped!

Since yesterday (Tuesday January 3) multiple fires have been raging in my neck of the woods.

Due to the superhero firefighters and their flying machines (multiple waterbombing helicopters and fixed wing planes), the fires surrounding my specific neighbourhood (Rome Glen, Somerset West) have been brought under control. It was quite scary yesterday when we could see trees going up in flames a few hundred metres away from our house.

Late this morning there were still some flare-ups close by, but the helicopters were on the scene within minutes to waterbomb them out of existence.

Everything outside is covered in ash.

We seem to be safe now, but many other people, houses and farms are still in danger from multiple burning fires. It’s quite hot again today (30+ Celsius), but we’re hoping that the wind does not pick up like yesterday. You can follow #somersetwestfire on twitter to see the latest news.

Through all of this, the community has pulled together in a fantastic way to keep the firefighters supplied with food and drink, and to help with evacuation and even firefighting where needed.

Following are some photos and impressions of the situation.

The first is of one of the firefighting helicopters landing on the park next to my house to pack up its giant water container. Due to exceptionally strong winds and turbulence, they had to be taken offline last night. This morning they started up again.

Water helicopter landing on the park next to my house.

The following is a photo taken by Bryn de Kocks of the flames near us. Please see Bryn’s blog for more brilliant impressions.

Flames right next to our neighbourhood. Click on photo to go to Bryn’s blog post.

@lesterkk is an eNCA reporter covering the fire. See his tweet from yesterday with a movie showing one of the helicopters refilling from a dam close by:

The following is a beautiful photo by Sullivan Photography of helicopters refilling from the dam a kilometre from my house:

Here is a video impression of all of the activity of yesterday:


Back in South Africa

(I was supposed to publish this around the start of February, but then life happened, and I didn’t get to quite finish it.)

For the first time in the three weeks after having arrived back on South African soil, we find ourselves in something that we’re going to call home for the coming months. Until now we have been living out of our suitcases, spending time with various grandpas and grandmas somewhere in the Boerewors Gordyn (the Northern ‘burbs of Cape Town, to those of you not in the know), The Oven (I just made that up. It’s Paarl, the town where I grew up thinking that 40 Celsius was a normal temperature to be wearing a blazer and a tie. 40 Celsius is now my preferred outside temperature.) and in Betty’s Bay (that’s its real name. It’s really cute that way. Look at me walking the thin line of apostrophe (ab)use.) We’ve been doing our fair share of early-to-bed-early-to-rise makes John cranky and not very wise, because Genetic Offspring Unit #1 had to be taken to school in our current town of residence, from our at that point temporary residence.

So you're really planning to publish that blog post, but then you take a walk instead. TISA.
So you’re really planning to publish that blog post, but then you take a walk instead. TISA.

At the moment I’m sitting in our new home behind an extremely shaky cellular data connection (the house is like the Bermuda triangle of mobile reception. Even in this carefully chosen spot the signal dances a really silly tap dance between H, 3G and EDGE. EDGE is NOT nice, trust me. I think EDGE is actually a synonym for “no connection at all, but we just like to make you think that there has to be something”. At some vague point in the future, ADSL will hopefully be installed. Africa does not care about the timeliness of your internet connection, deal with it.).

So we have our suitcases, and a whole bunch of borrowed items until Our Ship Comes In. No really, we have a ship that’s coming in with all of our old stuff on it. Until that moment, we have a special place where meat can be scorched, also in a social context. This is quite grand.

There is also a mountain in my backyard which I can’t help gawking at whenever I return home. The mountain is majestic, and that is even more grand than the place where you can scorch your meat. I have promised myself to retain and cultivate my awe at this mountain, and at all the mind-blowing natural majesty surrounding me wherever I go in this place, for as long as I can.

See you later everyone!