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March 18, 2009

Table Mountain on fire – an eyewitness account

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Photo courtesy Chris Cloete

9:30pm: I was driving back home with my girlfriend from somerset west on the N2 towards Rondebosch last night when I first saw the sparkly flicker of the fire that would, by the early hours of the morning, go on a devouring rampage of Devil’s Peak.

Our first thought was that it seemed very close to Rhodes Memorial and that it would be heart-breaking to see this Cape Town landmark devastated.

At that point, though, we never expected the fire to grow into the menace it would become.

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Photo courtesy Mikko Kapanen

12:30am: I went for a drive out and saw the fire slithering up the side of the mountain, followed by great plumes of thick, white smoke.

The flames tinged the clouds with deep oranges and crimson reds.

I stood in awe, not knowing whether what I saw was beautiful or a horrible devastation.

I guess it was a combination of the two.

7:45am: As I stood on the train into work I looked out and saw the dying puffs of smoke that ran all the way up to the highest peak.

Mumblings in the train of people who evacuated to families living away from the city made the morning post-apocalyptic, as though a massive bombshell had hit the city.

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Photo courtesy Warren Rohner

10:15am: Standing on the balcony at work in the Cape Town CBD … there is the unmistakable smell of fire in the air, the ash on the ground bears evidence of the reach of the fire.

For some it’s just a mountain. But for the Capetonian it’s not that simple – the mountain is one of us, part of the family, and when she is in pain we feel it too.

Aslam Levy is an eMarketing Coordinator at Cape Town Tourism, you can view his personal blog here.

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