Devastating Gordon’s Bay Fire: Loss, Looters and Gratitude

The devastation caused by the Gordon’s Bay Fire in South Africa, which engulfed the area earlier this week, has fanned the community spirit in the area. With strong winds feeding it, the fire raged through the region burning down at least four houses, two sub-stations, a vegan deli and restaurant and an entire horse farm on the Gordon’s Bay road.

Gordon’s Bay Fire. All photos by Inge Meischke Elliott

“It’s heartbreaking,” said local resident Inge Meischke Elliott, after driving past the devastation to check on her own home yesterday.

Inge and her family escaped the flames on Tuesday with their passports and dogs to stay in a B&B for a couple of nights, while the “hectic” inferno burnt dangerously close to their property. (The dogs stayed at an “incredible kennel next door who were so kind to accommodate us at short notice” and treated the dogs like “royalty”.)

“We still have a house. We are so blessed,” the former South African expat, who only moved back to South Africa a few months ago, told SAPeople. “There is ash all over the inside of our house but that is minimal compared to our neighbours.”

Four doors down a neighbour’s house was badly burnt.

“We still have no power and no water. We have posted an armed guard outside the house as we are doing renovations,” said Inge.

Unfortunately, she says, there have been looters in the area, capitalising on the misfortune of others.

“The worst part – there are looters…”
“They broke into this garage.”

The smoke was still thick and the air difficult to breathe yesterday. Strong winds and hot conditions adversely affected firefighting efforts in the area, but by this morning the fire was contained.

The Democratic Alliance in the Metro Region expressed gratitude to all role players –  including firefighters, the provincial government and residents – who managed to contain the devastating fire from doing further damage.

A fire fighting crew remained on the scene today in case of any flare-ups.

Was the fire started deliberately?

The City’s Fire and Rescue Services, led by Safety and Security mayoral committee member JP Smith, is investigating the cause of the fire.

This evening resident Patricia Rieder wrote on the Gordon’s Bay facebook page that when she was driving home at 05h15 on the side of Sir Lowry’s Road which didn’t burn, “there in the bush near the road was a tiny fire. I immediately stopped the car, pulled over and Lauren stomped over the fire and then covered it with sand. But why would that fire be there I’m asking. I am sure it was started deliberately!!! Really angry.”

According to Inge, Mary Jane’s vegan deli and restaurant has “burnt to the ground!”

Close to 250 firefighters and fire fighting aircraft from the Department of Environmental Affairs Working on Fire programme have been active at the Gordon’s Bay and Scarborough fires in the Western Cape.

Another new resident to Gordon’s Bay, Karen Vorster, wrote on the Gordon’s Bay page yesterday: “I am humbled by the people of GB. We moved here a week ago and after all the chaos yesterday and still today I know I am in the right place. What an amazing community with so much passion for their people and animals. I feel blessed to now be part of the Gordon’s Bay’ers…”

Watch the fire from Inge’s Home… and the devastation the next day…

All photos above © Inge Meischke Elliott and may not be republished without permission.

The normally peaceful and beautiful Gordon’s Bay. Photo by Carla Shannon in June 2017 – “My heart is with the beautiful people of Gordon’s Bay…”

?Western Cape Fire Update ?Klawervalley fire in Table Mountain National Park (Released by TMNP)A fire that started on Tuesday night on SANDF property has spread to Table Mountain National Park and is still burning.The fire has since spread through the Red Hill informal settlement, jumped Plateau Road and burned right up to the edge of Scarborough. The fire has not been contained yet and has covered an area of approximately 300ha.“The severe weather conditions has contributed to the rapid spread of the fire and it is making life extremely difficult for the fire fighters on the ground. Due to high wind speeds, the use of aerial resources is not always possible and pilots are only able to operate sporadically, says Philip Prins, Fire Manager for Table Mountain National park.A 56 km south-easterly wind is again forecasted for the area which will lead to an increase in the Fire Danger Index. This will definitely hamper firefighting efforts aimed at the containment of the fire. Fresh ground crews are due on the fire line this morning providing much needed relief for the night crews.If necessary more crews will be deployed which will consist of Table Mountain National Park contracted firefighters, Working on Fire firefighters and fire fighters from the Volunteer Wildfire Services.#SavingLives #ProtectingTheEnvironment #RestoringDignity #WOF_WC #WCVeldFireSeason #FireSeason #Fire #Wildfire #KlawervalleyFire

Posted by Working on Fire on Thursday, November 9, 2017