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Photos via either:-
(1) Bruce Mitchell & Denise Stephani, where the images are from our property; or
(2) Book The Cape of Flames (The Great Fire of January 2000) by Cape Argus and Santam, where the images are not from our property
| Butterfly Haven Castle - Great Fire of 2000
The Table Mountain Fire of 2000 happened in January 2000.
A key factor was alien trees from Australia called gum trees (eucalyptus trees).
History tells us that these gum trees were only planted because the colonials cut down all the local trees. They thought the Australian tree was an intelligent replacement for timber and firewood.
How wrong they were! They are highly invasive and an environmental disaster.
They are massive fire risks. They ignite easily, burn very intensely at high temperatures, and so spread fire rapidly.
They are water-greedy, guzzling so much water away from the subterranean water table and away from wildlife and existing plants.
They are quick-growing and overpower the indigenous vegetation. Fauna and flora is noticeably absent in the gum tree forests. Silence reigns.
They are very difficult to eradicate without complete root removal or intense use of herbicides on their stumps.
They are dangerous, called "widow-makers" in Australia due to sudden branch falls.
In the map of southerly Cape Town below, we were at the top left of the fire in Hout Bay.
Map of Great Fire (Cape Argus)
The furious fire steadily descended our koppie until it reached the edge of our property, perhaps only 30 metres from our home.
Fire seen from deck of our home (Bruce Mitchell & Denise Stephani)
Helicopters were constantly water-bombing it.
Fire helicopter (Cape Argus)
Fire helicopter drops 2000 L of water on fire (Cape Argus)
Fortunately, the wind changed and it went uphill and away. We had only one son at the time and he slept through it!
Others were not so fortunate (Cape Argus)
Others - tortoise & snake - were not so fortunate (Cape Argus)
Aftermath of gum tree forest at the rear of our property (Bruce Mitchell & Denise Stephani)
As a result of this Great Fire, all alien gum trees on this plot were cut down in a large tree removal project with the intent of reinstating the ancient, biodiverse and indigenous vegetation (fynbos). The fynbos was felt to rejoice when the gums were cleared!!
One of many yellowwood trees we planted (Bruce Mitchell & Denise Stephani)
Butterfly Haven Castle
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