23 February 2009

Somerset West fire live feed

Live updates and photos direct from firefighters on the Somerset West fireline.

Health24 is receiving live updates from the Somerset West fireline. Marcel Boast, a member of Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS), is relaying his impressions when he can. VWS has been sending teams out to help fight the fire since Friday.

Flare-up at Vergelegen today. Photo: Marcel Boast

(Most recent posts at top):

Monday 23 February 2009

- Wind picking up again. Really not good. And just a note, my feet are friggin sore.

- There is no glamour here, just hard physical work! But we at the volunteer unit love it.

- The section that we are on seems to be burning about a metre deep. Thick grass.

- Might be last message, battery going. Busy damping down a section. We are coming back tomorrow.

VWS crew leader Rob Stam wrestles with flames in thick undergrowth. Photo: Olivia Rose-Innes

- The amount of smoke is staggering. Lungs and eyes are burning.

Members of Cape Town City Fire and Rescue, and Volunteer Wildfire Services, moving hoses at Vergelegen today. The effort involves several firefighter groups who work closely together. Photo: Marcel Boast

- Thin blue line of sky between the mountains & smoke

- Smoke is so thick it feels like dawn.

Using a beater to prevent flames from reaching unburnt vegetation. Photo:Marcel Boast

- As our high pressure hose penetrates into the ground, steam billows out

- Words cannot describe how bad the situation is. This is not melodrama!

- OMG What was green yesterday looks like Mordor. The destruction is incredible!

- No helicopters flying. Winds too strong. This is going to be a crazy day on the fire line.

- Unbelievable, ash falling in Newlands from Somerset West. 32 deg, its going to be a long day.

Oryx helicopter making a water pickup from the Vergelegen dam. Photo: Craig Barker

- Day 4 on the fire line. Could this go on all week?

Sunday 22 February 2009

- Fire is still burning. I guess it's going to take a few days to be dead out.

- Wind picked up. Left, right and head flare-up. Flames 3m high.

- Working from the inside of a fire line, so the ground is hot. Feet are burning.

- Getting to Vergelegen now. 4 of the VWS team of 9 have done 3 days in a row.

Hoses can only be used in parts relatively easy to access from the road system. Photo: Craig Barker

- On my way to the fire line, day 3! And to think I'm volunteering for this. I must be crazy, oh wait, I am.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

- Still on the line! Really tired. Back tomorrow! This fire has been burning for days!

Exhausted VWS firefighter Tim Ellis-Smith takes a brief "smoke break". Photo: Craig Barker

- We've just been given food, meatballs! And I'm a vegetarian. :-(

- Huge flare-up on left flank.

- Hungry! Anybody want to bring up some pizza?

- It's not over yet by a long shot! We were supposed to get off the line by 5. Not going to happen

- Been very busy mopping up, wind direction changed. Bad

- Air support being brought in early. Wind picking up. Problem.

- At Vergelegen. About to be deployed. Wind will be a problem.

Friday 20 February 2009

- At home and finished. Need to be at base tomorrow at 7 to go back.

- We've just come off the fire line, still 2 hours till + till we get to base.

- Just did a stint with a knapsack. 20kg of water on your back. Tiring.

- We are all taking a bit of a break, everyone quite tired. Eating a chip and cheese sandwich!

- We are all taking a bit of a break, everyone quite tired. Eating a chip and cheese sandwich!

- Copious amounts of mucous flowing from our nostrils. Some people reckon their toughest fire yet.

- Feels like a battle zone with the choppers. Eyes & nose burning from smoke.

(- Compiled by Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, February 2009)

The VWS passed the 20 000-hour mark of Active Fire Duty today, and 1 500 hours for this season alone.
See for info on the VWS, as well as more photos and updates on the current fire situation


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