On the front lines with Hout Bay heroes battling the Cape blaze - with video: iLIVE

06 March 2015 - 13:47 By Peter Anderson
Tuesday 3rd March - sunrise in Hout Bay, Tierboskloof.
Tuesday 3rd March - sunrise in Hout Bay, Tierboskloof.
Image: Peter Anderson

My name is Peter Anderson, I am a resident in Tierboskloof estate, Hout Bay.

Jessica - Fire In The Cape from Calvin Munhuweyi on Vimeo.

My wife and 2 daughters have been looked after by a kind family across the valley in Hout Bay whilst we have battled the blaze around the Tierboskloof for the last 3 days.

This is an account and some images that I have taken all within a few hundred meters of the helicopter fire bucket site that we now call "Iwo Jima".

I noticed the Huey waterbucket video this morning on Times Live.

 

I have a slightly different angle as well as a picture of it routing in and dropping a strategically important water load onto the fire and the residents.

All of these images here are of Tierboskloof residents and Hout Bay NSRI (would you believe) trying to control fires on two hill sides in Tierboskloof Hout Bay.

The video was taken on Tuesday at sunset when we were battling to contain large brush piles on the firebreak.

The image shows the heli routing in with a 1,400 litre bucket.


Huey on fire duty. Image courtesy of Peter Anderson

An incredibly brave SANPark's team of 15 from Newlands base backed up by 8  Cape Town trained volunteer fire-fighters chased the blaze right the way up the kloof with beaters & hoes and headlamps to find their way through the fynbos.


The Iwo Jima site. Image courtesy of Peter Anderson

The real fighting started at 1:30 am on Wednesday the 4th when the fire burnt back to the firebreak and into the kloof to within 70 meters of the helicopter firebucket video site.


Tierboskloof resident, Roger, dousing. image courtest of Wayne Bergstrom

An extraordinary thing happened, the fire blazed down the mountain towards an indigenous forest which survived the 2000 fire and did not burn into the forest.


Tierboskloof residents fighting in the Tierboskloof valley whilst the fire advances down towards Hout Bay. Image courtesy of Peter Anderson

This was worrying as there is no firebreak around the forest and yet it burned around this very old forest.

This went on until 7 am on Wednesday morning and at around 9 am we repositioned on the north side of the Tierboskloof to try and prevent the fire burning down the hill.

At this time it was being pushed by a south easter.


SANPark's team from the Newlands base supported by Cape Town volunteer fire fighters. Image courtesy of Peter Anderson

The same residents and estate staff from Tierboskloof (accompanied by a volunteer from across the valley) continued fighting the blaze up the mountain to prevent it heading into Hout Bay itself.


Heli to the south of Iwo Jima site. Image courtesy of Peter Anderson

A gentle north westerly then started which brought light rain & cloud - the helicopters could not operate in this.

The rain and the fire beaters as well as the knapsack sprayers (which look totally ridiculous) actually worked in dousing coals & burning logs.

This went on for a few hours with the resident teams kneeling down in front of the blaze wearing gloves (welding gloves) pulling brush & decaying wood away from the path of the fire.


Tierboskloof residents Graeme Kemp & Peter Anderson. Image courtesy of Wayne Bergstrom

The north slope was brought under control, the wind died down and a few large pine tree logs continued glowing.

These erupted into fire again on Thursday morning and teams were sent up with containers of water (carried as it is too far into the mountainside for hoses).

At around 11 am yesterday the fire erupted again at Bokkemanskloof just behind Hout Bay and the helicopters were successful in preventing it from getting to Constantia Neck.

If it had crossed the road the Table Mountain forests would have been at risk & would most certainly have all burned down.

Last night we went to sleep fairly confident that the fire was under control.

At 1:30 am this morning the Tierboskloof residents incredibly helpful emergency whatsapp group alerted that the fire had flared up for the third time within a hundred meters of that helicopter firebucket site.


Heli to the south of Iwo Jima site. Image courtesy of Pete Anderson

The Huey firebucket site has become the Iwo Jima in this battle in Hout Bay.

The Hout Bay fire brigade sent a fire engine as far up the road into Tierboskloof as they could and then ran hoses for around 200 meters to the flare up site.

This was brought under control at around 3 am this morning.A patrol was sent into the indigenous forest above Tierboskloof with a heat gun thermo sensor at 2:30 am to establish if there were any "hot spots" in the forest.

It is so thick that not all of it could be assessed but it appears to be under control there.

The area around Hout Bay is under control for now but there is a large fire started by lightning at Cape Point heading towards Scarborough.

Well organised and equipped Hout Bay residents backed up by the Cape Peninsula Fire Protection Association, Hout Bay Fire Department & SANPark's fire management infrastructure and helicopter support has been the key.


This panorama shows the burn across 180 degrees on day 2. The Iwo Jima site is in the valley next to the smoke going straight up 2/3rd of the way across this image. Image courtesy of Peter Anderson

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