We had been on fire warning, since the fire jumped the “Seven Passes Road” at around four o’clock on Tuesday 30th October 2018. This fire was coming toward us like a huge Dragon.
Back at Pachamama Forest Retreat, we spent the day frantically clearing brush from around the houses and woodchipping all dry material. We also cut down some trees that were a bit too close to the buildings for comfort, basically preparing for the fire, because it was coming our way and we wanted to do everything we could to prevent the structures from burning.
We packed all our valuables like computers and phones and clothes and a bunch of stuff which we thought would be good to save. We got all the equipment out into the open, under wet sweat lodge blankets.
Finally, as we could hear the fire approaching, we wet the buildings and the areas around them until the fire was too close for comfort to stay. …….. We Evacuated.
We had evacuated the property in fear of a crown fire coming from the pine forest. We were told by authorities, not to take the tractor into the land and try to fight the fire, it was too dangerous. And it certainly felt that way. There were a few bakkies on standby and PG Bison team were fighting the fire around the back of the property along the Escom firebreak.
By this time I have already let go, I thought we were going to lose everything and when this photo(above) was taken I thought the fire had already taken the ceremony space because this is what I had seen(below) moments ago. And the wind was gusting to gale force.
But I had to go back, to try and find Magic the cat. We had all the other animals accounted for, but I had not been able to find the Black cat, “Magic”.
I ran back into the fire zone and found him pretty quickly. I grabbed him (he doesn’t like to be held) and he scratched me when I insisted he come with. I wrapped him in a blanket and put him in my car.
But now, I had seen the fire up close and it wasn’t a crown fire, it was coming thru the undergrowth. And even though the wind was blowing hard, it was not blowing on the fire. The wind was sweeping over the tops of the trees. The fire I was seeing, didn’t have the same face that it had when it was coming thru the pine forest toward us earlier.
We decided to go in and fight! Werner, Tadiwa and I(Nishi) drove the Tractor and Firefighting gear to the Opá and started to fight the fire that was surrounding the Opa. Once we were inside(the forest), I called for help on our local Whatsapp network and 8 or 9 Bakkie Sakkies, mostly from the surrounding community, pitched up to help pretty fast.
The fire had jumped the firebreak from the P.G.Bison Pine plantation behind Pachamama at 14h35. With much help from local firefighters and their ‘bakkie sakkies‘, we had the fire under control by 18H30. We then spent the evening putting out small fires and wetting the smouldering ground around the property. A bunch of Bibishoek supporters and our volunteers all arrived to help with mop-up operations and their help was so appreciated!
Some scary moments, but no-one was injured and we never lost any buildings, not even a beehive. Our Tractor got stuck in reverse and needed some attention and we burned an extension cable. We were exhausted but happy and we felt good about saving the Farm from complete destruction.
However, this is not the end of the story. Although we had saved Pachamama structures from burning, we were to be fighting fire off of the boundaries with many people for a further five days. But this story is about the day we saved Pachamama from fire and I will continue with the follow-up story in a few days, a story of how the community came together to defend Kraaibosch from destruction.
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