The March 2015 fires will forever remain scorched into the memory of all Capetonian's. As the last remaining pine plantations took to flame, their burning beauty was matched only by the selfless efforts of all firefighters, responding agencies, donors and capetonians that rallied like never before!
The utter devastation that remained, between the smouldering embers, hid beneath it the mystery and miracle of nature that the Fynbos biome is famous for. As we ponder the magnitude of the actual fire event we are reminded everyday around the penisula, that we live in a fire prone environment.
Now, as we enter summer, we start to notice that the devastation has been replaced by new growth, new life and a magnificence of colour seldom seen on such a grand scale on our mountain.
This photo essay looks back at the frightening beauty of fire, the ashy aftermath and now several months later, the recovery. The recent publication of the the Cape Aflame book, provides a definitive account of the fires. Spectacular photography, fire progression maps and vividely edited text, this is a must have account of the fires, for all capetonians, ecologists, wild fire practitioners and everyone wishing to support a great cause.
All proceeds of this book will go towards supporting four beneficiries that are inextricably linked to wildfires on the Cape Peninsula, namely Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS), the SPCA Wildlife and Horse Care Units, the Table Mountain National Park Honorary Rangers and the Cape Peninsula Fire Protection Association.
1. The fire enters the mountainside above the Silverhurst Estate, fanned by a strong South-easter wind.
2. The fire front sweeps through the Silwermine SANDF base.
3. Fire does not discriminate, but Natures' resilience is amazing.
4. Scorched, blackened.
5. Yet, the fire continued unabated. Working its way down into the Tokai pine plantations, with an almost apocolyptic sense of purpose.
6. Once the Eucalyptus trees ignited, the furnace was a true pyre, destined to reduce the entire plantation to ash.
7. The etherial glow was magnificent in its beauty and terrifying in its unrelenting purpose. You can see the red lights of fire trucks, bottom right.
8. Morning brought a brave attempt to arrest the fires advance into the lower Tokai plantations.
9. It soon became evident that the beast could not be tamed. Its purpose set.
10. Apocolyptic wasteland, brave pilots.
11. The fire took on a life on its own once inside the lower plantation. That fire tornado is the height of a six story building. All surrounding oxygen consumed.
12. Fighting a battle of epic proportions.
13. It was with sadness that the Arboretum took to flame. It was magnificent, yet frightening ferocity.You can almost hear those flames licking their way down the slope.
14. The fire breathes, keeping its advance steady.
15. A final display of absolute astounding proportions. Trees were consumed in seconds, exploding in huge fireballs.
16. We were largely spectators! Heroic efforts saved many houses, lives, but ultimately all we could do was watch.
17. A wasteland? Or a clean slate?
18. The next generation disperses, stimulated by heat and smoke.
19. Calmness as nature takes a breath.
20. Nature's adaptation strategies begin.
21. Seed! New beginnings... dispersed by wind.....
22. The old and the new! Death and life - circle?
23. Nature does not play the odds. A seed carpet to replenish what was lost.
24. Out of the blackness.......
25. Yellow, life, beauty..........
26. Resilience, adaptation or a close call?
27. Green, life .... out of the ashes
28. Sprouting from seed.... a pine plantation for 80 years - Fynbos finds a way back.
29. Erica's, a splash of red.
30. Proteaceae seedlings sprout en-mass. The next generation is here.
31. Nature protects the soil quickly, pioneer plants quickly revegetate the landscape.
32. A blank canvas.....
33. The painting begins! New life, everywhere.
34. Explosions of colour.
35. Beautifull orange/red "fire" front of Watsonias
36. Nature does not compromise. Fire adaptation is everywhere to be seen. The recovery is complete.
I am very proud to be a contributing photographer to the Cape Aflame book. Please support the cause and purchase your copy. CLICK THE IMAGE TO PURCHASE