Around lunchtime on December the 22nd, a veldfire ignited near the parking lot in Suiderstrand. With the southeaster blowing hard, the fire quickly spread and within half an hour, one building was completely destroyed. If it weren’t for the quick reactions of the Working On Fire helicopter from Bredasdorp, it could have been a lot, lot worse.
We weren’t down here then, as we were spending Christmas with family in Cape Town, and it took a while before the panicky messages on the whatsapp groups – in Afrikaans, nogal – began to make sense and I finally worked out that our place was not in immediate danger. It was a horrible few minutes. The point of ignition was only 100m from our front door, and had the fire started 24 hours before, it would have been blown directly towards our place.
The wind has been pumping since we arrived down here, and it was only yesterday morning that I managed to get the drone up to survey the scene from above and see just how lucky some houses were to escape serious harm.
There are plenty of melted gutters and lots of damaged paintwork, but nothing that can’t be repaired after the festive break. Not so much for the burnt-out home though. It’s a sad and sobering sight.
If one is looking for positives – and at this time of year, one should always have a glass half full – it was that this was the only casualty, and that no-one was injured or killed in the fire.
The village reacted well, with plenty of people on hand to assist where possible and great communication. And we’ve all renewed our knowledge of evacuation procedures and emergency numbers, which is never a bad thing.
We just hope we never have to use them.
Just because I stumbled across it on my Flickr and felt like posting it.
The light was awful, the editing is equally bad; it’s far, far from being a great photo. But I was struck by the fact that despite living here for 17 years, walking these same streets day in, day out, one quick flight with the Mavic and I saw a view of the place that I had never ever seen before.
I love that it gives the impression that the A57 is some near-Parisian tree-lined boulevard, and that my childhood suburb is perched on a cliff overlooking the City Centre. Neither of these things are true, of course, but looking at this here, they could be.
There are currently no plans for a return visit to Sheffield in the foreseeable future, so any vernal version of this shot will have to wait.
If you want to see more aerial views of suburbia (and more) from our visit last September, you can find them in my Sheffield 2017 Flickr album.
One of the sadly inevitable consequences of the cape Town drought is the exacerbation of our fire season. With no recent rain, the local veld and fynbos is a veritable tinder box ready to go up at the slightest provocation. The Overberg FPA recently documented the huge number (40) of major wildfires they have had to deal with so far this year.
Yesterday afternoon, it was the turn of Cape Town once again, as firefighters, 3 helicopters and a spotter plane worked hard for several hours to contain a fire in Cecilia Forest. We couldn’t actually see the fire from our garden or our house, but I popped the Mavic up and suddenly, all became clear (Well, as clear as it could be with all the smoke drifting around). And so I did what any sensible fellow would have done, and banged the pano button. 21 separate photos, taken automatically by the drone and stitched in the app gave me this:
Those are Wynberg School fields in the foreground (Junior on the left, High School on the right), with the fire clearly visible on the on the mountain beyond, and smoke drifting everywhere, but mainly southwards on the light breeze through the Constantia Valley and down towards False Bay.
This is a great example of how the Mavic can give you a different point of view on things. I knew there was a fire somewhere close: I could smell it, and the air was hazy with smoke. But I literally couldn’t see anything from ground level. I’m in no way suggesting that this a great image (it’s not – shooting straight into the sun is never a good idea), but at least I could see what was going on, and could document it. (And without getting in the way of any helicopters.)
Last time I saw a wildfire, I had to drive to get there.
It would be nice, however, if there weren’t too many more wildfires to ‘tog in this way (or any other).
UPDATE: Sullivan Photography at Ground Zero
Determined not to leave it as long as last time – however long that was – I fired up the Adobe Lightroom editing whatchamacallit and looked through the photos that had been taken this weekend. Not all mine, I hasten to add. The Boy Wonder had his clicking fingers out and was snapping away and even Mrs 6000 got involved on occasion.
And that editing? Accompanied by a bubble or two of Oude Meester VSOB and the new Radiohead offering*. Magical.
But still, only about a 15% (if that) success rate on the photos.
But that does mean that they are (mostly) the best 15% (yes, that’s how bad I am/we are). So you should go and enjoy them here.
You’ll find a huge leaning towards photos taken with the Mavic. And some repeats of photos previously taken with the Mavic. No apologies here, sweetcakes. I’m still blown away by what this little machine can do, each and every time I fly it. And I’m still learning how to get the best out of the camera (and the editing software, for that matter). Practice makes perfect.
Bear with me, and just know that I’m having so. much. fun. on the journey.
* Start at No Surprises and play through to the end of the new stuff. Arguably the best 14 track run in… forever.
A quick lunchtime trip to the False Bay Rugby Club with the newly-mended Mrs 6000 gave me a chance to chuck the Mavic around, much to the joy of the kids and dads playing on the rugby field.
This was all about having fun, not a photo or video expedition, so there’s not much to report other than the fact that it was nice to get some fresh air and some more but you can have a look at a different view of things here if you want.
School holidays are now upon us, so not only does that mean an extra hour in bed each morning, but I will also be using every opportunity to spend some time with the kids and – because I have a little bit of annual leave coming up – flying some new places too.