Mpumalanga fires under control

Mpumalanga fires under control

7 August 2007

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Mpumalanga, South Africa — All veld fires which raged through Mpumalanga recently have been brought under control, the department of local government and housing said on Tuesday.

“Although the fires have been brought under control, firefighters and the provincial disaster management team are still monitoring the situation,” the department said in a statement.

Reports indicate ten people died due to the fires and 20 were injured, either directly in the fires or in smoke-related accidents.

The department said 40 200 hectares of plantations and 15 000 hectares of grazing fields were destroyed.

As firefighters mopped up afterwards, fire damage assessments were underway and should be completed within two weeks.

A team to investigate what caused the fire would be appointed before the end of the week.

Various organisations were helping families affected by the fires.

On Tuesday, paper producer Sappi said about 4 300 hectares of the company’s land had been affected by the Mpumalanga fires.

“While there are no real short term concerns around fibre supply, the company is putting action plans into place to ensure that its long term supply is secured.”

Plantations affected were around Piet Retief, Badplaas, Barberton and Ngodwana, the company said in a statement.

The affected land included planted areas and natural areas managed for conversation.

“The timber that was lost (a combination of soft and hard wood species) was in differing stages of maturity. Therefore it is too early to confirm the financial impact.”

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