Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fire on the Mountain

The white smoke drifting up into the china blue sky didn't seem like anything to get unduly worried about, but bitter experience in the Western Cape during these searing hot, dry summers has taught everyone not to ignore any fire, no matter how small.  Minutes later I heard the clatter and thud of helicopters overhead.

That's Lion's Head in the background.

The fire was between Lion's Head and Signal Hill and two helicopters were working in relay, orange buckets attached, scooping up water from the reservoir one road below my house.  My camera is always ready at the front door and in three minutes I was down at the reservoir, standing on tiptoe to reach over a wire fence and get a clear shot at the action.  Luckily, my husband came with me because it was quite a circus changing over from wide angle to zoom lenses, as the mood took me.  His training as a photographic assistant is coming along nicely!

Hovering over the reservoir, the blue and yellow helicopter scoops up a load of water ...

... work requiring the utmost skill, precision and concentration.

As the bucket fills up and the helicopter rises, the rotors send a spray over all the keen photographers clustered around the fenced off reservoir, quite refreshing in view of the 40 degree heat.  In the background can be seen the red and blue helicopter making its way with a full load of water towards the fire.

And we have lift-off.

Water squiggling from the bucket ...

 ... over the trees ...

... and across the face of Table Mountain.

Fire nearly out, the last trip of the morning.

And back to base camp.

We have experienced so many deadly fires this summer, exacerbated by intense heat and very strong winds, but some possibly due to arson. Lives have been lost, people injured and thousands of hectares of forest destroyed.  We owe so much to the courage of all our firefighters, in the air on helicopters and spotter planes, on the ground right at the face of the fires and in fire engines driving in a dangerous and desperate race through never ending traffic.

Latest note :
I have just heard on the radio that it is suspected that this fire was the work of arsonists.    One is left with a feeling of despair.  What is there left to to say?



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