Windhoek, Namibia — Aout 600 sheep and goats have been killed in a huge veld fire that started on the farm Autabib in the Dordabis area east of Windhoek on Monday.
The livestock belonged to Kobus Visagie, the owner of farm Springboklaagte, about 28 km southeast of Dordabis.
Visagie’s wife told The Namibian yesterday that her husband was too distraught about the loss to speak to the media.
She could also not tell how large an area of grazing had been destroyed by the fire.
But Danie Straus of Kowas game farm, who had visited the scene of the fire, said what he saw was terrible.
Gys Joubert Jnr, the son of Gys Joubert of farm Autabib where the fire started, told The Namibian that he heard that the fire had been caused by earthmoving equipment used by workers building a lodge on his father’s farm.
Joubert Snr was not at the farm when The Namibian arrived there.
His son said the fire spread fast because of a strong wind and about 1 200 hectares of grazing was destroyed.
“The volume of the fire was so huge because the grass is so tall, and it is unbelievable that no human life has been lost since the veld fires started in this area,” said Joubert Jnr.
Autabib is a dual-purpose farm where cattle and game are kept.
From Autabib, the fire spread to the farm Onverwacht, belonging to Joachim Luehl, where it destroyed 3 000 hectares of grazing.
Luehl, who also farms with cattle and game, said the fire started at around 10h00 on Monday at Autabib.
“When it started we thought we could handle it, but with the strong wind it was difficult,” he said.
Luehl said neighbouring farmers came to his aid with bakkies carrying fire-fighting equipment, and the fire was finally brought under control.
When The Namibian visited the farm yesterday morning, some dry trees and bushes were still burning.
“Wind is the biggest problem we have,” said Luehl.
He said that two-way radios were helping a lot in co-ordinating community efforts to fight veld fires in the area.
While Autabib, Onverwacht and Springboklaagte were counting the cost of the fire yesterday, another veld fire that also started on Monday was still raging in the Hatamas mountains, about 15 km south-west of Dordabis.
When The Namibian arrived at the scene yesterday afternoon, officials from the Forestry Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry were battling to control the fire.
Their task was complicated by the steep terrain in the mountains.
The officials said the fire was believed to have been caused by a smoker who discarded a burning cigarette butt.