Weather brings some relief from fires

Weather brings some relief from fires

6 October 2005

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Johannesburg, South Africa — Cool and conditions moving overthe northern parts of the country brought some relief on Wednesday forfirefighters still battling veld fires in Mpumalanga.

Working on Fire (WF) operations manager Chris Austin said all but one veld firein Mpumalanga, near Machadodorp, were under control by Wednesday afternoon.

“The weather has changed. It has become somewhat cloudy and there is aquite high moisture content in the Mpumalanga area,” said Austin. “Generally,in the province things had calmed down considerably.”

Austin warned that the fire risk remains high in the northern parts of thecountry, where no rain is expected.

Earlier in the day, a fire that raged through the North West veld overnight wasbrought under control near the Vredefort Dome.

“We are still monitoring the situation, but the main fire was extinguishedaround 5am,” said Potchefstroom rural disaster manager Kobus Roux. “Thewind is down and the cool weather will help extinguish a series of smaller andisolated fires.”

The fire started along the Potchefstroom-Vereeniging road after a strong windblew down power lines. On Tuesday, winds of 40kph were fanning the fire over a30km area.

Austin said one of the Mpumalanga forest fires — contained on Wednesday –destroyed about 1 000ha of commercial timber.

According to a report by WF, firefighting teams were deployed in seven provincesovernight to help landowners contain various fires.

These include two teams in the Western Cape, three in the Eastern Cape, four inGauteng, Limpopo and the Free State, and six in KwaZulu-Natal.

There are forty WF fire bases in South Africa, each with a 22-strong crew,selected from formerly unemployed people and trained by WF.


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