This afternoon, we had some drama at my housing complex. Upon getting up to make myself a cup of coffee, and a brief glimpse out the window, I noticed a humongous plume of thick smoke filling what is usually my uninterrupted view of the river which runs past the back of the complex.
Now of course, being concerned about the possibility of losing my home to fire, and wanting to do something about averting a possible neighbourhood catastrophe, I did what any decent person would do in such a situation – I grabbed my camera and ran down to get a closer look at the spectacle, shoving the neighbour’s kids out of my way in the hope of getting some awesome shots!
This was the scene that met me when I got down to the river bank. It was a matter of only a couple of minutes later when the cavalry arrived.
Although there was a lot of smoke, at this point there wasn’t actually too many great balls of fire. Being the end of our summer, and given the fact that we haven’t yet had any serious rain in Cape Town, the river is very low and the wide bank is thickly overgrown by long grasses and some very dry reeds. I thought they’d use one pump to water the lower garden, and that would pretty much be the end of it. But that was before the flames hit the reeds. …and then all hell broke loose.
Look closely. There are fire fighters in the middle of that blazing beast!
With some of the flames subdued, the heroes headed further into the veld to chase after the spreading fire.
By this stage, even the neighbourhood watch had arrived to, erm… watch.
…along with the rest of the neighbourhood:
I decided to make myself useful by rallying the residents to organise some drinks for the fire fighters, and this table with drinks seemed to appear instantly. It was a small, yet much appreciated gesture.
Meanwhile, by this time, one or two of the civilians on scene had begun to lend their own efforts directly to the fire fighting.
…while the rest of us watched and tried our best to stay out of the way
The neighbours in the next complex had begun to take measures of their own by watering down the dry reeds, which are right at their doorsteps.
And it’s a good thing that they did, because the fire was moving towards them rapidly.
But the fire fighters had it under control.
With flames now raging on both sides of the fence, and of the river, additional fire support was called in and the flames were being attacked from multiple fronts.
While the heros continued to draw a keen crowd of spectators.
At one point, once the worst was under control, I did get a little bit closer, and was a bit concerned about some small flare-ups that were getting closer to one of the hoses.
Worried that it might damage the water line, I informed one fire fighter, and he quickly remedied it.
This, indecently, is what happens to your clothing when you get a bit too close to that fire hose when it’s being used to douse the smouldering ashes of the burnt ground.
With things looking like they were coming under control quickly, relieved crowds eventually started dissipating.
Job well done!
One can never really offer enough thanks to the men and women who put their lives on the line when it comes to fire-prevention and safety, but nonetheless, I’d like to thank each and every one of them – amateurs included – who helped manage the situation today.
It’s worth mentioning that the last fire truck left here well after dark, and only after the very last lick of flames was extinguished. Testimony to the fact that these guys know that their job simply ain’t done until it’s done!