Cape Town burning

Driving home a short while ago, I saw embers all along Ou Kaapse Weg, and towards Tokai. It’s only 5 years since the huge fires of Jan 2000. It may look like the fynbos has recovered remarkably, and I’m sure after the winter rains everything will be green again, but some of the plants, in particular the proteas, take a few years to produce seed. Fires of this frequency destroy the fynbos diversity, and bring those Karoo sands one step closer.

Barring lightning, which is very rare here, fires can only really be caused in three ways: cigarette butts (probably the most common, so many fires start next to roads), deliberate lighting, or broken glass causing the veld to ignite. Humans are responsible for all three – sometimes I wish for a plague to wipe out all the idiots I have to share the planet with. There’s a part of me that rejoices in tsumanis, or news of fire destroying houses, and wishes there’d be more (although I live right next to an area highly likely to be burnt, and the house has already been burnt down once, so of course my view is the classic everyone else but me hole.)

The wind is howling now, so let’s just hope it dies down soon, and gives those firefighters a rest.


  1. I assume you are referring only to *unnaturally frequent* fynbos fires? … as far as I know, natural fires are healthy and necessary to the fynbos ecosystem … they have been occurring regularly for so long that some species have evolved along with this to the point that their seeds will not germinate unless they’ve been through smoke or fire.

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