Fires on the mountains

Signal hill on fire behind our guesthouse
Table Mountain was on fire again this weekend. There are fires every year on at least one of our many mountains. And we have many mountains. Because Table Mountain is right bang slap in the middle of our city, the city of Cape Town is built around the mountain, the fires can come really close to our homes. Evacuations are not unheard of. Similarly winter rains bring mudslides to houses on the slopes.

There are more photos taken at night from homes on Seth Rotherham's blog Table Mountain on fire What causes these fires? Arson, careless smokers and bottles or the magnifying of glass in the sun may set the mountain alight. Our summer months are hot and dry and the vegetation becomes highly flammable. The casualties can be human life, certainly rodents, insects, juvenile mammals and bird eggs perish in these fires.

Yet our famous mountain fynbos requires fire to survive. Germination in some species is dependent on smoke from fires. Other plants need fire to split seed pods allowing seeds to disperse. So while on the one hand, fires are a necessary evil, do be aware that prosecution will ensure if anyone is found to actually cause a fire. A British tourist was extradited to face charges in South Africa some years back. See here for more 2006 Table Mountain fire

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