Fire theories

There have been some wildfires recently. And while arson is likely to be the cause of some of them, could there be something even more sinister behind that arson?

Only yesterday, High Empress of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, sent out this tweet, “just asking” if the recent wildfires could be “accidental or coincidental”.

[EDIT: Actually, this is a SA Weather Service map showing warning for “veld fire conditions” (and “extreme heat”), not actual fires.]

To be honest, we’re all well aware that she has jumped on the conspiracy theory bandwagon and is “#justasking” if the ANC has a deliberate, coordinated arson campaign in full swing in order to “destabilise the [DA-run] Western Cape”. And even then, is that “accidental” or “coincidental”?
In my view, it’s neither. I think that would be “deliberate” and “coordinated”.

The trouble is, even in sharing the image above, Helen has basically answered her own unasked question. The fires are all in red or brown areas – marked as such because they are very dangerous or extreme risk for wildfires. Next to some of the fire icons are thermometer icons. They show that there is a heatwave, adding to the fire risk. And then there’s the green bit towards the south and east of the province. Limited fire risk there. And no fires. And then there are the those three fires icons in the [ANC-run] Northern Cape. Bit of an own goal there, ne?

So wildfires in fire season in high risk wildfire areas, during a heatwave, in the middle of a drought? Yeah. Sounds like an ANC campaign to me. [pops on tinfoil hat]

Cape Town will always suffer from wildfires though, because of the volcanic mountain on our doorstep. I think most people are unaware of this – obviously the city wouldn’t want panic to ensue when the 4.5 million residents realised that they were living right on top of an explodey volcanological time-bomb. So they’ve not mentioned it.

Sadly, thanks to this erstwhile FB user, the cat are now out of the bag.

Yeah. I mean, how unlikely is that cigarette or arson theory when you look at the “Lions Head is a sleeping volcano” reasoning. Of course, Lions Head isn’t a sleeping volcano, it’s sandstone on top of Cape granite (see here), as any meteorologist will tell you (once they’ve… er… stopped foolishly looking at the weather), but don’t let that stand in your way as you crash wildly through the fragile boundaries of reality and into your scary, alternate, “everything is going to repeatedly be set on fire and they’re not telling us why” dimension.

Wait… OMG! Fires on hot days? I hadn’t linked the two. Ever. She might actually be correct. I mean, it never burns in winter, does it? You know: Winter, when the volcanic mountains go cold for several months and there are no wildfires. Checkmate, skeptics!

And just in case you are still a non-believer:

Well, California, South and East Australia, OregonPeru and Canada, just off the top of my head. And, weirdly, all in summer. And double weirdly, all in places where the ANC wasn’t in power. And treble weirdly, all in places where the local authorities haven’t told residents that they’re living on top of a explodey volcanological time-bomb, even when they’re not.

Suddenly. It. All. Fits.

And our Facebooking friend has some advice for those who are commenting on her post:

Yeah. I mean, honestly. If you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to the volcano mountain or the natural annual fires, then just don’t get involved, ok? Just like she didn’t.

Sadly, this being the internet, and her theories being utterly laughable, some people did get involved and the lady making the volcano suggestions was on the receiving end of some not inconsiderable ridicule. And then, this being the internet, someone defended her, and so she said this:

Yeah, immatured people. Please actually think logically when you’re participating in matured conversations like ones about volcanoes which aren’t volcanoes lighting fires on extremely unbearably hot days.

Honestly. It’s not hard.

Matches

We found ourselves with a few thousand safety matches in a plastic bag. It’s probably best that you don’t ask how this came to be. Anyway, aside from gooi’ing the whole lot onto the braai to see what would happen, there were a few other ideas. One of these was to take 1/4000 second exposure photos of the matches igniting as dusk fell.
I guess I was inspired by last week’s Slo-Mo guys video.

Sadly, 1/4000 really isn’t fast enough to be Slo-Mo, if you see what I mean. Still, one lives, one learns.

The first experiment went well enough that I was encouraged by my 10-year old son (and official lightee of the matches) to try a larger, second attempt. Somewhat buoyed by the success of initial effort together with a certain amount of Castle Milk Stout, I agreed to give it another go. The second attempt was rather less successful, mainly because the flames decided to turn on the photographer (me) – as the three photos below testify:

matches

The good news is that the doctors say my eyebrows should grow back fairly quickly.

Other photos from the weekend (including a bit more night photography) are here.

Fire!

After Friday’s cold front, the long weekend came good with some fresh, bright weather.

Making hay, we headed down to Cape Agulhas and did stuff like braai, y-bike along the road with the daughter, walk along the beach with the beagle and light a big fire (in the fireplace, not some sort of random arson).
I’d share a photo, but I’m still working on getting large photos onto blog posts. It’s not as simple as it seems. I’ll get there.

It’s red wine and brandy weather too.
Please excuse me while I recognise this.

CSKA Moscow-Supporting Firefighter’s “Day Made” By Fire at Rivals’ Stadium

A fire at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, home to local football sides Spartak Moscow and Torpedo Moscow, as well as the Russian national team has delighted Moscow fireman Nikolai Alexanderov.

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Sources at the scene quote Alexanderov as smiling broadly as he and his colleagues fought the blaze which had taken hold on the northwestern side of the stadium.

“This is a great experience for me! The best day ever! I joined the Moscow Fire Brigade simply because I love helping with putting fires out. Houses and minor arson attacks are one thing, but these big fires at buildings of national significance are what I really enjoy. Add to that the fact that I am a lifelong CSKA fan and this stadium is the home of our bitterest rivals Spartak Moscow, and it is on fire.
Together, this combination, it is what is officially called a Daymaker.”

The cause of the fire was, at the time of writing, unclear. But that mattered little to Nikolai, who was smiling broadly and singing the official CSKA club song as he trained his hosepipe on the blaze.

Some More Fire Stuff

RAIN: It’s raining in Cape Town. And while all the helicopter buckets in the world (which obviously aren’t in Cape Town anyway) are great, the clouds can do a much better job on the ongoing fire. Still, it’s just rain. And while it’s very welcome news: it’s actually quite a lot later than we would have liked.
Maybe He has been busy since Sunday. Mysterious ways and all that.

Hang on, he’s got that wrong, hasn’t he?

Yep. Thought so.

But it’s obviously thanks to some people’s hard praying that we’re all saved. Or something.

Ugh.

Anyway, while the wet stuff falls over the greater Cape Town area, it still only came down as “a passing shower” over some of the affected areas. So we’re definitely not out of what’s left of the woods yet.

BOTANY: In other news, here’s a great post on why what has happened, happens:

The burning of fynbos vegetation is an inevitability. It is sad that people are negatively affected but it is far from sad that the veld itself is burning. This vegetation type has been subjected to fire for millennia and the optimum fire interval is every 10-14 years. Fire is a keystone process without which many plants in the fynbos would not be able to regenerate, produce offspring or reproduce. Fynbos plants are either resprouters or reseeders: Either they can resprout after a fire has passed through or they produce seeds that are adapted to survive fire and require heat from the fire and chemical compounds from the smoke to germinate.

I’d urge you to go and read that whole post. Really interesting stuff, well-written and well-aimed at us lay-botanists.

MAPHere’s a thing where you can see how big the fire area would be, were it to be dropped on your locality. It’s set at 3000 hectares as I write, although that was the area affected on Monday morning – I’ve watched it move much further since then. But it does give some idea.

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PHOTO: Finally, still my favourite photo of this whole thing (and there have been a lot of photos of this whole thing):

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I don’t know who took it or where it’s taken, but it just indicates the scale of the task that the local firefighters have been up against.