Things started well: I snapped my losing sequence on ‘the hill’ at two before heading off down Fai King Road towards the former closed area. I hadn’t gone far though before I spotted a hill fire to my left (south) and stopped to take a photo, although I was too far away to capture anything of the drama.
However, I was nearing the top of the first of three category 3 hills along this road when I suddenly came much closer to the fire—it had burned right down to the road—and this time I got a much better picture:
I continued on my way, and within a couple of hundred metres I was flagged down by a policeman, who wanted to know from whence I’d come. He appeared to think I was in grave danger and was concerned that I might turn left at the upcoming junction (Ma Tso Lung Road). I hadn’t intended to, but before I reached the junction I came to a police roadblock. They were obviously not allowing traffic through in the opposite direction, but I did wonder why there hadn’t also been a roadblock at the other side of the danger zone.
My original intention had been to turn round at the end of the road and go back the way I’d come, but recent exploration in this area meant that I did have an alternative, which was a rough cut-across to Ma Tso Lung Road. Once on this latter road, I decided to see if I could get close to the fire from that side and possibly take a few more pictures. These are the best:
I did contemplate trying to go down Liu Pok Road, but there was an ambulance parked at the junction, and fire crews going about their business, and I didn’t want to become a nuisance, so I came back via the Shum Chun River, where a helicopter was collecting water to drop on the fire:
It is unlikely that this fire was started deliberately, but it is very likely that is was the result of carelessness: a cigarette discarded from a passing car (a strong possibility given the proximity of the blaze to a road); or the burning of paper money or joss sticks next to one of the many graves that adorn the hillsides around these parts. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens far too often, and I’m sure that I’m not the only person who finds such stupidity extremely annoying.
A map of the frontier area showing the roads named above. The red ellipse marks the approximate area of the fire, and where it touches the road is the location of the first photograph.
I was cycling in the same area today and took the following photos, which show the extent of the destruction. The first was taken in approximately the same location as the first one above, while the second can be seen to match the vantage point from which the other photos were taken.
The fire burned right down to Liu Pok Road but didn’t cross it. The road turned out to be an effective firebreak.