Speculation about cause of fire in Cape Southern Peninsula brings up interesting insights

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Photo credit: Chesney Bradshaw

The fires on the Southern Cape Peninsula mountains have been raging for four days. Windy conditions are making it difficult to stop the fire. The wind changed northerly today and the fire reversed its course and started in new areas.

Hundreds of firefighters, many emergency teams, and several helicopters are being used to fight the fire.

While residents and tenants evacuate their homes (together with their pets) with fire blazing close by in the night, there has been talk about what caused the fire.

Some people believe that with the national and provincial elections being held next year, it could be politically motivated to make the Cape ungovernable. This is stretching it. But who knows? ?

Another cause could be, some say, raindrops.

However, the evidence about sunlight shining through raindrops and starting a fire ?is thin according to Science Daily. A researcher had this to say:
“If the focal region of drops falls exactly on the dry plant surface intensely focused sunlight could theoretically start a fire. However, the likelihood is reduced as the water drops should evaporate before this, so these claims should be treated with a grain of salt.”

Below you will find a list of some of the general causes of mountain fires.

Just note that climate change is adding to the occurrence of mountain fires.

Whatever the cause of the fire, there are a couple of things that are interesting.

The one is a strong likelihood that it was caused by humans. Whether in error or deliberate, we don’t know. However, fires are generally caused by the human species.

Another thing, and this is important, is that once these fires have been put out, there will be no more fires for some time. Why? Because there is very little left to burn.

Another interesting fact is the nutrients in the ash. The ash will stimulate new growth.

One other thing I must mention is the destruction. I saw another mountain fire some time back, about five years ago. From ground-up reports, one could get an inkling of the tons and tons of flora that were destroyed, as well as the tons and tons of animal, bird and insect life destroyed.

We are talking about buck, tortoises, rock rabbits, snakes, an entire ecosystem. This ecosystem, by the way, the Fynbos ecosystem, is one of something like eight plant kingdoms in the world, so it is very special.

But the point here is that the Fynbos will grow back. When it comes to animal and bird species, it’s going to take a very long time, and in some cases it might not be possible at all.

So, whilst there could be many causes of the fire, the main perpetrators are usually human. It’ll be interesting to see what the conclusions will be of an official investigation into the causes of the fires.

Mountain fires can be caused by various factors, including:

  1. Lightning Strikes: Natural causes such as lightning can ignite dry vegetation.
  2. Human Activities: Campfires, discarded cigarettes, or equipment sparks can trigger fires.
  3. Arson: Deliberate setting of fires by individuals for malicious reasons.
  4. Power Lines: Electrical sparks from faulty power lines can lead to fires.
  5. Spontaneous Combustion: Decomposition of organic matter in hot conditions can generate heat, causing fires.
  6. Volcanic Activity: Volcanic eruptions can release hot lava, igniting vegetation.
  7. Unattended Cooking: Neglected outdoor cooking or barbecues can start fires.
  8. Drought and Dry Conditions: Prolonged periods without rain can result in highly flammable conditions.
  9. Wind: Strong winds can rapidly spread fires, making them harder to control.
  10. Human Negligence: Failure to properly extinguish a fire or report a small one can contribute to larger wildfires.

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