A strong Berg wind has blown today, shaking trees, creating eddies of dry leaves on the ground – and fanning a veld fire, funnelling the thick smoke down into the valley to smother our town.
The smoke grew thicker as the wind strengthened and the fire spread across the hills, threatening the hospital, a retirement centre and other buildings. A local school evacuated their scholars when the fire came too close.
It does not take long for a fire to eat its way through tinder dry grass and drought-stricken vegetation when there is a strong wind to egg it on. In no time at all the flames crossed the disused railway line and the smoke billowed upward.
The extent of the fire and the smoke attracted dozens of onlookers – we haven’t experienced such a veld fire so close at hand for a season or so.
Even though all the municipal fire trucks had been fully deployed they couldn’t fill the gaps. This is where the community pulled together. The university bowser came to assist.
Other assistance came from schools, the army base, a neighbouring municipality and even a nearby game reserve.
So much water has been used to fight a blaze when there is already so little to spare.