Nine homes destroyed by veld fires

Nine homes destroyed by veld fires

27 August 2007

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Cape Town, South Africa — Nine homesteads were burned down and four people were injured as runaway veld fires swept the Harrismith and Van Reenen’s Pass area on Monday, the Emnambithi/Ladysmith Municipality said.

Superintendent Bennie Strydom, of the municipality’s public safety department, said the wind reached speeds of more than 100 kilometres per hour in the morning but had dropped and turned by the evening.

Superintendent Fred Halgreen said there were flames but that the wind had died down.

Firefighters were still fighting the fires shortly before 8pm.

“They are busy winning it as it’s going,” he said.

The fire raged through the Van Reenen village where nine huts were burned down.

Some residents had to run for their lives, SABC radio news reported.

A bed and breakfast owner at Van Reenens Pass said: “This was hell on earth what we experienced today. It was literally hell.”‘

The woman described the experience as being like “in a ball of fire” and that the flames were intense.

“You could not see,” she said.

The woman abandoned her car. “When I saw that fire I realised that we were in great danger.”

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