Although Emma’s World is primarily a mum and baby blog, I couldn’t allow what’s happened locally this week pass by without a mention.
I know in previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I live in a very rural part of South Wales and have done for the past 4 years. Ever since finding our first home on the side of Twmbarlwm, Risca, my husband and I have absolutely fallen head over heels in love with the beautiful area. Originally, I come from West Wales which is also a stunning part of the world, and being in Risca completely reminds me of my childhood and life back West.
Before moving to Risca, I had never seen, encountered or witnessed a grass fire. I’d seen plenty of footage in the news and on social media but I’d never seen one with my own eyes. That was before I moved to Risca. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a grass fire here. It literally moved me to tears to think that due to a person or group of people’s complete ignorance and carelessness, a beautiful, green, lush landscape could be completely decimated. It shocked me. I’ll never forget feeling like I was watching a film and there was absolutely nothing I could do to help.
That grass fire was nothing compared to the scenes we’ve been subjected to over the past few days. The first I heard (or smelt) was my husband coming home from work and mentioning that the mountain was ablaze. My heart instantly sank. I hoped and still do (with some doubt) that the fires had been started naturally – as you know, it’s been extremely hot and the grass is like straw, but I doubt that the sun could have created such vast fires on such a huge scale of devastation.
The fires have continued to blaze all weekend and the mountains are still smoking today (Monday). The sides of the mountains are completely black, the trees, plants and grass have been destroyed and I absolutely dread to think how the smoke and fire have affected the wildlife up there. My husband went out last night to see the vastness of the flames and described that he could hear the cows on the mountain making very distressed noises. This genuinely reduced me to tears. Jon decided to take his camera out to document the sheer scale of the grass fire and you can see the pictures he took here.
People living in Newport have been able to witness the flames on Twmbarlwm themselves with some even reporting being able to smell the fire. Newport is around 5 miles away from Risca so you can get some sort of an idea of the scale of the situation.
The fire service (as usual) has been utterly tremendous. They risk their lives on a daily basis to help us and save countless lives constantly. They have been on the mountain and surrounding areas for days, fighting these massive fires in absolutely scorching heat. I cannot begin to imagine how exhausted they must be, successfully controlling the fires before they spread again and grow on a different patch of land. There have been helicopters flying over the site for days, dropping water on the flames to attempt to control the situation, but last night especially, the fires just seemed to be getting worse.
This morning, the sky is full of smoke, and I know that like many others, I’m praying for some rain which will hopefully help to extinguish the fires.
Reading the updates given by local communities and individuals on Facebook and Twitter over the past few days has made me extremely proud and privileged to be a part of such a lovely community. Local shops, charities, pubs and restaurants have all pulled together to ensure that the fire service, volunteers and everyone else working tirelessly on the mountains and surrounding areas don’t go hungry and thirsty, leaving comments of well-wishes on various social media threads and offering words of thank you.
I know that I speak for every single local resident when I say the biggest thank you to every firefighter, ambulance crew, others assisting on the site and volunteers for absolutely everything. We appreciate you so, so much and are forever thankful for taking care of the community and our beautiful land. If you are planning a controlled fire or barbeque, please be careful and spare a thought for our greenery and wildlife. It’s what makes our valleys and country so special.