On Sunday, on the way back from Ultimate practice in Stellenbosch, I saw a fire raging on the mountain slopes above Franschhoek. I thought nothing of it and was sure the authorities would have it under control soon enough.
Little did I know.
Yesterday morning I noticed a few wispy, low flying clouds pass over the house here in Wemmershoek, but only around lunch time realised it was, in fact, not clouds at all – it was smoke from a fire raging across the road.
Through the night, fueled by a strong, consistent wind, the fire had made its way along the back of mountain slopes running along the R301 road, direction Paarl.
It managed to get into the ravine near the Wemmershoek dam and the flames became visible to the residents of De Hollandsche Molen as it burned the sloping hillsides on both sides.
The fire remained a threat all day, and at one point preparations were made to accommodate a possible evacuation.
Thankfully the wind consistently blew away from the housing area. Combined with the tireless efforts of the pilots of up to 4 helicopters at one point, that water-bombed the fire, as well as the brave firefighters meeting the flames head-on on the ground, the fire threat was mitigated at around 19:30.
Before that it crept to within about 300m of the road at it’s closest point.
The fire might be down, but it’s not out, and when we went to Paarl at around 2pm yesterday, it had spread almost halfway there. Last night, there was an eery glow along the mountain tops as the fire kept raging.
This morning again the sky is alive with helicopter activity as they continue to try and get the fire under control.