Farmer blamed for Eastern Cape forest fire

Farmer blamed forEastern Cape forest fire

7 November 2007

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South Africa — The fire season in the Eastern Cape is ablaze, with ragingflames spreading fast across the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area – a worldheritage site.

Fires in this remote and beautiful area have been burning for almost a week. Itis believed a local honeybush tea farmer caused the blaze when a controlled firehe started burnt out of control. However, the farmer has blamed natureconservation officers.

At least 40 specialised firefighters from Working on Fire (WoF), assisted byhelicopters, have been called in to help but changing winds are hampering theirefforts but nature conservation officials insist they have the fire undercontrol.

Ecologists say the fire should not cause too much damage to the environment butfarmers and ecotourism operators feel differently. They say officials respondedtoo late and they had to fight the fire for days on their own.

Rob Le Roux, a host at Baviaans Lodge, says: “We had to go out thereourselves because there was a lack of taking the fire seriously. It was headingdown towards our lodge. If we hadn’t gone out there ourselves, it would probablyhave put us out of business.”

Another bush fire closed the N2 highway west of Port Elizabeth, burning out atruck.

Limpopo blaze leaves 19 families homeless
At least 19 families were left homeless after a fire ravaged their homes lastnight at the Mapube village outside Giyani, northeast of Limpopo. The cause ofthe fire is unknown at this stage. A villager is being treated at the localhospital for shock and smoke inhalation.

The fire brigade has had its hands full. It says it has been called toextinguish fire in the village every day in the last few weeks. Fire fighterssay at this stage, they do not know how the fires get started.

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