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, fuelled 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 long and at one point preparations were made to accommodate a possible evacuation.
Thanks in part to the wind consistently blowing away from the housing area, and also thanks to the tireless efforts of the pilots of up to 4 helicopters at one point, who water-bombed the fire, as well as the brave people fighting the fire head-on on the ground, the fire finally stopped being a threat to us at about 19:30.
It had burned to within about 300m of the road at it’s closest point.
The fire is not out, however, 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.