If you are living near the Mother City, you can hardly complain about this year’s summer weather — if anything it’s been too warm. The fire season, which runs from November till the end of April, has so far seen almost 900 fires in the Winelands district alone.

The Coastal Region is a winter rainfall area so there is little ambient moisture to dampen the tinder. A carelessly dropped match, a cigarette butt, an untended braai fire are all that it takes for the vegetation to catch alight. Then there’s the small matter of the breeze, a euphemism for the often gale-force winds that blow in off the ocean before being funnelled through the complex topography of the landscape. A flicker of fire, a real gust of wind and suddenly tens of thousands of hectares of fynbos, vineyard and alien vegetation have been turned into a furnace...

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