Every summer as the rains stop, winds pick up and temperatures escalate the Western Cape is plagued with fires which rip through nature reserves, winelands and the open landscapes for which the province prides itself. All year round in the townships where often the only source of warmth and cooking is over an open-flame paraffin stove, one of these is knocked over and due to the congested living conditions tens of shacks are burned down leaving hundreds homeless.

Fire – the beautiful destroyer – gives to life as easily as it can take it away. Neglect of this element’s strength was brought into the limelight in 2006 when Anthony Cooper allegedly flicked a cigarette butt out of his car window resulting in Table Mountain igniting into flames. The Mountain being located in the heart of the city meant that no one could hide from the power of fire especially when disrespected. It also meant that the City was forced to recognise how understaffed and equipped the Fire Department was. Incredible aid was raised during this time but the department is still far from where it should be.
Since 2006 Anthony Cooper was found innocent, fire fighters still work extreme hours, and the fires rage on. This is a tribute to the beauty of fire, the unseen heroes who control its destruction, and all those who have lost lives and life’s possessions amongst ashes.

 

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