In the first week of September 2008, the dry season in southeastern Africa was nearing its peak. Although widespread agricultural fires are common in the area this time of year, the fire activity, including out-of-control bushfires, was extreme in parts of Mozambique and South Africa. Following reports of more than 40 deaths from fires in South Africa, the BBC news reported on September 5 that more than 30 people were also killed in neighboring Mozambique. Hundreds of homes had been lost. This image of Mozambique centered on the Zambeze River was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Aqua satellite on September 7, 2008. Places where the sensor detected actively burning fires are marked in red.
I South Africa:
Update Veldfires 18H00 8/9/08
Note: This only reflects fires known and to which WoF partners have responded.
Fire Summary for the day
MPU, Limp, EC and KZN
Total fires: 23
Fires controlled: 15
WOF Crews 10
No injuries or fatalities reported
Expected weather conditions for tomorrow remain Orange and in some places Red over the majority of the Winter fire region.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Controlled burns banned as veld fires run wild
Veld fire fighters were fighting 12 fires in three provinces today, as weather conditions across the north-eastern parts of South Africa continued to favour wild fire. The worst hit provinces were Limpopo and Mpumalanga where the fire danger index remained high orange to red as veld fire fighters from the Working on Fire Programme, working with partner organisations, battled to contain the worst blazes in forestry plantations. Working on Fire is a government-funded national veldfire awareness and firefighting programme aimed at employing particularly rural unemployed youth and training them to fight unwanted wild fires. In KwaZulu Natal wild fire fighters stopped three wild fires burning in two forestry plantations and a national park in the Drakensberg and Midlands. Simon Thomas, operations manager for the KwaZulu Natal Fire Protection Association, said all controlled burning of agricultural land in the province was banned. Hot and dry northwesterly wind made conditions: very dangerous for out of control wild fire, he said. Thomas said the weather was expected to cool by Wednesday. WoF Programme Manager Fred Mokgope said simple steps to burn agricultural land responsibly, reducing fuel loads and informing the police of suspected arsonists would reduce wild fire. Intentionally started wild fires claim lives, destroy livelihoods and devastate the environment, he said, We appeal to the public to report careless or criminal behaviour to the SA Police Services.
On Monday, it was reported that about 50,000 hectares of land has been burnt across the country.
‘Dozens die’ in Mozambique fires
Bush fires in central Mozambique have killed at least 32 people and left thousands more without shelter, state media and relief officials have said.
The fires also destroyed homes and 16,000 hectares of agricultural land. In Sofala province, the governor told the newspaper Noticias that 21 people had died and more than 700 homes had been burnt down. The governor, Alberto Vaquina, said the government is providing tents and other assistance to those affected.
Zambezia province was reported to have been affected, as was Manica, on the border with Zimbabwe, where the fires killed 11 people and injured 26 others. The fires, which began on Monday, have been driven across the region by strong winds. The director of Mozambique’s relief agency, Joao Ribeiro, said the number of victims may be higher than officially recorded because many people were burnt so badly they could not be immediately identified. Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/7601114.stm