Watch those puffs and butts, public told

Watch those puffs and butts, public told

11 January 2007

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South Africa — A major veld fire broke out near the Mamre Nature Reserve soon after 3pm on Wednesday and took almost two hours for firefighters, helped by a helicopter and working with five fire tenders, to bring under control.

Fransuliene Bosch, provincial co-ordinator of Working on Fire (WoF), said an Mi8 helicopter had helped the firefighters.

Only vegetation had been burned and no buildings had been under threat.

Bosch said it was not known what had caused the fire.

WoF appealed to members of the public to exercise caution when they made fires. Humans were to blame for more than 90 percent of wildfires.

Wof advocacy officer Val Charlton said weather forecasters had predicted “orange and yellow” days for this week. The colours indicate the level of the risk of fire, with red representing conditions that create the greatest threat.

Meanwhile, in the Doornbach informal settlement, people who had lost their homes in a fire began building others on Wednesday.

Cape Town disaster management spokesperson Johan Minnie said about 50 shacks had been destroyed, leaving 130 people without shelter.

The city’s human settlement services department had given them planks and sheets of corrugated iron to rebuild their homes. Good Hope International Beverages had given 4 200 boxes of liquid meal supplement.

Meanwhile, firefighters in the Overberg District Municipality are discussing whether to file a complaint with the police about a farmer who burned refuse on his land, leading to a runaway blaze in the mountains about 7-kilometres west of Swellendam on Tuesday.

Reinhard Geldenhuys, the municipality’s chief fire officer, said it would be decided by this afternoon whether a complaint would be filed or the man fined.

It took three fire engines, three WoF firefighting teams and an Alouette helicopter about 3½ hours to extinguish the blaze.

Geldenhuys said the municipality expected the man to foot the firefighting bill, about R38 000. “We have warned farmers of the dangers of burning rubbish and that they would have to pay the costs if they start a fire. The man can expect a bill in the mail.”

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