Fires in South Africa

Fires inSouth Africa

26September 2005

Extreme fire weather continues in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, while KZN starts to cooloff  (Monday 26 September 8:00 hrs)

24 Working on Fire crews remained at the firelines throughout the night, but will be relieved by rested crews this morning.

25 September 2005
11:55 hrs UTC
(Image courtesy MODIS)

Aircraft were dispatched at first light this morning. Fresh crews have been mobilized from Working on Fire bases in the Eastern and Western Cape

At 8:00 hrs this morning the 2 fires in Tzaneen were under control, however 3 fires in Mpumalanga continued to burn uncontrolled. Thirteen 22 person crews are supporting local resources in Mpumalanga.

In the Free State the Rosendal fire is under control. It is still burning in inaccessible areas and along a long front. The burnt area is estimated at 12 000 Hectares. Seven Working on Fire crews were deployed throughout the night at hot spots along the line and will continue on duty throughout today. The fire at Willem Pretorius Reserve is out.

This morning two crews will be redeployed to Mbazwane in Northern Zululand, where a large fire continues to burn out of control. Damage to plantation is estimated at 3 000 Hectares.

In Central Zululand the nine fires that were burning last night have been brought under control. Firefighters are ‘mopping up’ – working through the area to ensure that there is no material left burning that could cause the fire to reignite. Cooler weather conditions are moving in and expect to bring some relief to exhausted firefighters.

The extreme weather conditions – coded “Red” in terms of the National Fire Danger Rating System recently launched by DWAF under the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, are blamed for the widespread fires experienced over the last week. During this time, a mere spark is sufficient to ignite the dry veld.

Landowners and the general public are asked to take note of weather conditions that create a high wild fire risk and avoid lighting fires on these days. Ensure that open cooking fires are not left unattended at any time and water is kept close by.

Firefighters face day three of fighting runaway veldfires with extreme weather conditions predicted for another 48hours

The aerial and ground firefighters of the National Working on Fire Programme have been called to assist with a further spate of uncontrolled veld fires with twentyfour 22 person hand firefighting crews and all aerial resources presently deployed. According to Mr Chris Austin, National Operations Manager for WOF, mobilization of relief crews from the Eastern Cape and Southern Cape is underway. ‘ We are expecting another 2 days of this. Weather conditions today are red, with temperatures of 30 degrees and low humidity. Some places are experiencing very strong winds. ‘ said Austin.

9 new fires are burning out of control in the KZN Zululand area – mainly a forestry and sugar cane farming region. A fire in Mbazwane, northern Zululand reignited after being contained on Friday.

In Mpumalanga /Limpopo, 4 fires are burning in the Nelspruit dispatch area with another 2 fires in Warberton’s area and one in the Piet Retief area.

Yesterday’s fires in the Rosendal/Paul Roos area of the Free State continue to burn along a 45km flank. Working on Fire crews from Gauteng and KZN arrived today to relieve exhausted crews that worked throughout the night. Last night damage was estimated at between10 000 and 12 000 Hectares – mostly grazing. This will have increased substantially during the night. One injury was reported of a farmer who had sustained burns to his hands and face.

Firefighters battle raging wildfires against high winds (Saturday 24 September15:10 hrs)

Working on Fire ground and aerial veld firefighters from Mpumalanga, eastern Free State, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng have been deployed en masse to assist with severe wildfires that are being driven by strong winds.

24 September 2005
11:35 hrs UTC
(Image courtesy MODIS)

Fifteen 22 person hand crews have been mobilized in Mpumalanga where there are fires burning at Dulstroom and Graskop. In addition to the ground resources, a spotter plane , four water bombing fixed wing aircraft and one of the Working on Fire Mll8 helicopters are being used at Grasskop, which is a plantation fire.

Four 22 person helitack crews have been airlifted to the Rosedal / Senekal / Kestell region of the Eastern Free State, using the second Working on Fire MII 8 chopper. A total of 7 fires are burning in this area of grassland and agricultural land, 2 of which are in the Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve. Visibility is bad due to smoke and this is hampering firefighting efforts.

According to Mr Johan Heine, CEO of the National Working on Fire Programme, the weather is expected to worsen before it changes. “ The wind is howling.” says Heine , “ and we are anticipating that this will continue through Sunday. We have mobilized all available crews. Some crews are on standby and will be deployed where they are needed most.

Yesterday fires were burning in Cullinan, Gauteng and Mbazwane, northern KZN. Both were contained last night.

Eastern Free State (Saturday 24 September 17:00hrs)

While 2 fires at Rosendal / Ficksberg are now contained, the two fires at Rosendal and Paul Roos are raging and expected to join together in the next couple of hours. It is anticipated that, acting as one large fire, they will head towards Fouriesberg, burning with a right and left flank.

2 fires in the Willem Pretorius Reserve continue to burn fiercely.

Firefighters will continue to fight the fires throughout the night.

A relief force of approximately 80 firefighters will be brought in tomorrow. Working on Fire crews from firebases at Howick and Golden Gate National Park as well as 2 WOF crews from Gauteng are currently mobilizing. The WOF Qua Qua crew will be redeployed from Kestell, where the fire they have been attending in almost under control.

Depending on Mpumalanga’s fire status on Sunday AM, an MII8 will be sent from Nelspruit to assist farmers in the Eastern Free State.

One injury has been reported – a farmer sustained burns to his hands and face.

The extent of the burnt areas is estimated at between 10 000 and 12 000 Hectares.

(source: Val Charlton, Advocacy Co-ordinator, Working on Fire Programme)

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