South Africa — More agricultural land was destroyed this year in the Free State than in the past two years put together. Many farmers have lost everything, including land and livestock. Five people have died in the fires.
More than 220 000 hectares of agricultural land was destroyed this year. This represents 1.7% of land in the Free State. Eighty thousand hectares thereof burnt down in August alone. The eastern and northern parts of the province are mostly affected.
In 2002, 400 000 hectares were destroyed by devastating veld fires believed to be one of the worst fire seasons ever. The Free State branch of the department of water affairs and forestry (Dwaf) says with two months of the burning season still to come, this year’s number might even be higher. The Free State department of agriculture will hand over almost 170 tons of fodder to 92 farm owners in the veld fire stricken areas.
The Free State branch of the Dwaf says arson is suspected in many of the veld fires. But this season is also abnormally dry and windy. Free State Agriculture says any help will be appreciated. The organisation will compile an assessment report of the damage and how much fodder will be needed to assist farmers.