Veld fires under control

Veld fires under control

1 August 2007

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South Africa — Most of the veld fires which were ravaging parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal were under control by Tuesday afternoon, Working on Fire (WoF) said.

Spokesperson Val Charlton said a number of fires were still smouldering but were being contained.

“There are 21 teams helping to extinguish these areas.”

Provincial authorities said the latest reports indicated that 10 people died in Mpumalanga as a result of the fires. The confirmed figure in KwaZulu-Natal was 13.

About 37 400ha of plantation and 15 000ha of grazing had been destroyed, said the department of local government and housing.

The government-funded WoF had deployed 500 firefighters and 22 aircraft to fight the fires.

“Teams are continuing to monitor the situation,” the department said.

Charlton said WoF teams were also helping farmers with mopping-up operations in stricken areas.

The possibility of new veld fires in the two provinces in the next few days could not be excluded.

“More fire weather – strong winds and bone-dry conditions – is expected in the next two days, and we are preparing for that,” Charlton said.

Mpumalanga province said tents, blankets and food parcels had been distributed to families whose houses were destroyed.

Earlier, the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it had sent teams to Swaziland to help with animals affected by fires.

“We will be providing the animals with basic treatment,” said spokesperson Celeste Houseman.

Several thousand animals had died in the Swaziland fires, she said.

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