The days and nights following the March veldfire of 2015 are etched in the memories of many Capetonians who watched as much of the peninsula mountains burned red.
Several properties were destroyed alongside the Table Mountain Na-tional Park (TMNP), several firefighters were injured and many creatures were torched.
Countless photographs were published on social and mainstream media showing a groundswell of support for the firefighting efforts.
It was because of this that Muizenberg professional photographer Andy Nix suggested putting all the pictures and the story together in a book, not for financial gain but to raise funds for fire-fighting and animal rescue organisations involved with it. This resulted in the Cape Aflame Project, a citizen-led initiative led by a small, determined group of residents (“Magnitude of fire captured in book”, Bulletin November 26, 2015).
The net profit of R400 000 raised through sales of The Cape Aflame – Cape Town’s Dance with Fire, was presented to various recipients at Newlands Fire Base recently.
Les Martins of SA Media Services said the project’s team were thrilled that their idea succeeded. Their goal was to take delivery of the book by Christmas but they needed to cover the cost of publishing.
This was where chartered accountant Kevin Gleeson came in useful. They pre-sold copies of the book promising recipients a mention at the back of the book. Once the book was published, they worked with independent retailers by selling 2 650 copies within seven months of publication.
Mike Golby, who spent many hours researching and writing the text, said the book is a permanent record of the fire and a detailed, educative case study of integrated wildfire management in the Western Cape’s Fynbos Biome.
Kate Dearlove brings years of experience to the team. She was involved with sourcing images and incorporating the views of historians, academics, scientists and ecologists.
At the money hand-over event, she said when choosing the recipients it was important for the team to know what the funds would be used for.
Here is what recipients will be doing with the funds:
* Bequest and major donor officer with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, Joette Emerton, said this donation will enable their Wildlife Unit to replenish much needed supplies. The shopping list of items is long and diverse, from a quad bike and trailer for beach rescues of seals to owl boxes, snake handling equipment, waders and waterproof boots to field animal stretchers and halters for horses.
* SANParks Honorary Ranger Diane Brooks said they have chosen a practical as well as an educational focus.
Part of their role is to assist in providing visitor safety patrols in the park. In the wake of the brutal rape and murder of Franziska Blöchliger earlier this year, patrols in Lower Tokai Park have been stepped up but they currently have only one two-way radio for every 10 of the honorary rangers. Radios are also needed as communication between groups of junior rangers when they are on training hikes. A quarter of the funds will go to purchasing these extremely costly pieces of equipment, as well as high-visibility vests.
The balance of the funds will go towards post-fire restoration in Upper Tokai and the Arboretum and includes repairing of footpaths and access points to the park; planting and re-seeding of indigenous vegetation; and anti-erosion measures.
* The Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS)accepted the cheque and said it would be used for infrastructure at their planned permanent base on the south peninsula branch.
“Ideally to be located at Stonehaven Estate on the Glencairn expressway the base will add im-mensely to VWS’s integrated wildfire firefighting capability,” said volunteer Geraldine Corder. She added that the City’s Fire and Rescue Service have plans to build a fire station in the same vicinity in 2017/18. And the Newlands Fire Base has not been forgotten and thanks to funds donated by a cellphone network provider, it will see an upgrade soon.
* Philip Prins of Cape Peninsula Fire Protection Association (CPFPA) said they will use the donation for educational focus of students, homeowners, landowners and CPFPA staff.
* The remaining 150 copies of The Cape Aflame — Cape Town’s Dance with Fire, priced at R395, are available to the public through participating retail outlets. Details may be found at capeaflame.com