Unexpected Cape Fire Story for AFP

The smell of smoke on my drive to Tokai just outside of Cape Town was pervasive. I was there to get shots for another story, but my GPS sent me the wrong way, and it was an obvious decision to park near the roadblock and trek on foot with my gear behind the fire trucks towards the thick smoke.

Fireman rolls hose

The fires were anticipated, the fynbos burns every 15 years or so, and Dr Anthony Rebelo from SANBI gave great insight into this naturally occurring phenomenon. But during the night the wind had changed direction so the forest fire that had been burning in the national park for the previous two days had got worryingly close to residential areas.

A local family, the Watson’s, saw me filming and offered me a lift right up to the residential areas that were under pressure.  In the car were Liza and Gavin Watson, and their two sons Jordan and Connor. They were responding to phone messages from neighbours who needed help. The community spirit was awesome to see, people dousing trees and buildings to prevent the fire from spreading, and neighbours assisting each other to move their possessions into trailers and drive them to safety.

Not everyone was so fortunate though, and two homes I saw had been destroyed. Utterly. The firemen were still there, soaking the ashes to prevent a flare up.

Fireman sprays burnt land

Tokai burnt car in driveway

The story is here on the AFP youtube page [you must click through to watch it].

Thanks to all who participated in it, particularly the Watsons. I will pay it forward.

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