There’s very little that can compete with a warm cosy bush fire for an exceptional atmosphere. When you’re out in the wilderness and far removed from the bustle of the city, this is especially true and completes the entire experience. It is, however, necessary to practice a little caution as fire is also one of nature’s most powerful and damaging forces if not kept in check.
Fires are always a risk and being in the African bush doesn’t reduce the dangers of a potential outbreak, even during the wet seasons when the trees and shrubs are saturated and lush. In the dry season the risks are exponentially greater, combined with strong winds this can be a dangerous combination.
Bush Fire Etiquette
There’s nothing wrong with a controlled bushfire – as long as all current conditions are taken into consideration and you are clued up on basic fire safety precautions and etiquette. Although coming to an end, the current dry season is at its peak and the likelihood of a fire outbreak quickly getting out of control is much higher.
Out of control fire
Dry grass fire
Considerations when making your fire:
1. Size matters
Whether you’re trying to keep warm or cooking a meal, a roaring fire is usually not necessary and not worth the associated risk. A smaller fire – just enough to cook your meal on will suffice and provide plenty of heat to go around!
For extra warmth and to retain heat, try adding some stones to the fire.
2. The origin of the wood you’re using
Being in a natural habitat for many animals and insects, the wood that you burn releases more than just heat, along with the smoke and ashes are organisms that will be spread further than your boma. It’s not biological warfare but burning foreign wood introduces foreign organisms that could have adverse effects on the ecosystem around you, it is always best to use firewood that is sourced from the immediate surroundings to mitigate any changes to the ecosystem.
3. Climate conditions
If it is a particularly windy day, make a small fire or avoid making a fire at all. Strong enough winds fuel fires by breathing more oxygen into them. This can raise the flames high enough – allowing a fire to jump from its source to neighbouring areas. In our case this is the dry savannah bush, the grass all around the lodge or the thatched roofs of the other units at iKhaya LamaDube. The embers of a fire are a big risk and building large fires in windy conditions could allow these embers to be larger and carry further – increasing the risk of ember attack.
Basic fire safety precautions
- Always keep water or sand nearby to properly extinguish a fire when you are done, or if it gets out of control.
- Be sure to properly extinguish a match before disposing of it, or throw it into the fire to burn.
- Make sure to use proper kindling or fire starters, never use an accelerant like petrol, parifine or other flammable liquids.
- Keep anything that could catch fire at least 5m away from the fire.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
What we are doing at iKhaya LamaDube
We are very aware of the risks and take the safety of our guests and the natural environment very seriously.
Rest assured that each member of the iKhaya LamaDube family has undergone rigorous training and obtained certified fire fighting skills whilst every single unit at the lodge has been equipped with its own hose-pipe with a standard adjustable jet nozzle. As the units are primarily built with thatched roofs the nozzle has been specifically selected for the purpose of fighting a thatch-roof fire… Just in case!
Remember, the best way to stop a fire from spreading is to prevent it in the first place. Since the fire itself is part of the pleasures of a stay in the bush, building small manageable fires is the best way to indulge while staying safe at the same time.
If you ever require assistance with starting or extinguishing your fire, your team at iKhaya LamaDube is only a phone call away.