Over the past seven years some 100 homeowners have lost their homes through fire. Almost without exception all these homes had thatched roofs. Certainly it is not thatch to blame for in each fire there was at least one of the following common denominator – wind – overgrown bush – human negligence or possible arson, intended or unintended.
There is very little we can do about the wind for that is part of living in this region. The human negligence or arson aspect is probably impossible to avoid but it can be minimized to some extent.
But the third denominator can be controlled by clearing bush on undeveloped land both privately owned and municipal / state owned. The municipality has to invoke the bylaws relating to bush clearing stringently and fine owners or confiscate the and of those who refuse to comply.
Of course replacing thatch with alternative roofing certainly will also go a long way to reducing the damage in future fires and without doubt many owners with thatched homes will be looking seriously at alternatives. The aesthetics committee has stuck to, and so they must, the black or grey roofing that with the white walls is so very much part of St Francis Bay.
But to date home owners have had to choose from the expensive conversions to brick / concrete tile or shingles including the rather nice looking melthoid shingle that largely can follow the contours of thatch architecture that brick / concrete cannot. All of these are expensive and possibly out of the reach of some homeowners.
But now there is talk of allowing ‘tin’ roofs in St Francis Bay village and on the canals. Now by ‘tin’ we refer to rather sophisticated alloy materials and not that awful green corrugated roofing of the past. Studying the brochures of some of these new alloys it appears they too can be modelled maybe not to fit contours but certainly to add interest to roof lines. Home owners in Cape St Francis who obviously don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the aesthetics committee, have already fitted these ‘tin’ roofs and examples can be seen in Cape St Francis Resort where the thatch is slowly being replaced by ‘tin’. Another example is the big new home under construction that one sees shortly after crossing the first speed hump as you enter Cape St Francis.
That everything needs to be done to stop more homes being so tragically lost is a given. If it means relaxing rules to fit pockets, so be it.
Rooves as a plural for of roof is dated, but not incorrect. The Oxford English Dictionary lists “rooves” as an alternate to roofs,