As fires raged through Somerset West and the Hottentots-Holland mountains‚ residents from affected areas jumped in to help the firefighters who have been hard at work dousing the flames.
Among the residents was 24-year-old Diwaan Blom from Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. He had been fighting the flames all alone with a blue gum tree branch since 9am on Wednesday.
He woke up to thick smoke which had enveloped his village and saw other volunteers from the community heading to the front line of the blaze.
“I thought I might as well keep busy‚ I’m not working you see. I just wanted to make a contribution‚” Blom told TMG Digital.
He got an Energade drink‚ a chocolate and an apple from a volunteer station that had been set up at the local municipal buildings.
Now he has found his purpose in life — he wants to become a firefighter.
Blom lives alone. His father is in prison and his mother died.
While explaining his life story‚ Blom was roped in by firefighters who had seen him trying to extinguish the flames with the blue gum branch.
He was asked to carry a fire hose and extinguish any smouldering pieces of debris the firefighters might have missed.
“If I’m still fit‚ I’ll help into the night‚” he said with a smile‚ his cheeks streaked with sweat and ash.
One firefighter said that while they welcome volunteers‚ they have to register at the volunteer station.
“If anything happens to them it’s big problems. We can use the volunteers … but the front line is dangerous‚” said the firefighter.
Children also joined in. They “helped” City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service personnel who patiently demonstrated how to open and close fire hydrant taps. Later they donated a bag of food to the group of boys.
“I’ll be a firefighter‚” said one lad proudly.
By 1.20 pm‚ Blom was seen with a new branch in another area trying to put out flames.
— TMG Digital/The Times