Fires rage countrywide

Fires rage countrywide

1 September 2008

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South Africa — Devastating veld fires which have killed at least two people were still raging through the north eastern parts of the country on Monday, the Working on Fire Programme (WoF) said.

Wind speeds of 85 kilometres per hour were recorded in some areas, said WoF spokesman Evelyn Holtzhausen.

Forestry plantations, farm land, buildings and livestock were destroyed in more than 50 veld fires in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga at the weekend.

An elderly couple burnt to death at Nkandla in northern KwaZulu-Natal when their house caught alight at eSbhudeni village, reported police spokesman Mbongeni Mdlalose, who said fires in that area had gutted 170 homesteads.

In the Free State and Mpumalanga, fires were raging near Bethlehem and Piet Retief.

“As fast as we get one fire under control another starts burning. At one time six fires were burning in the Nelspruit area and five in the Warburton area in Mpumalanga. This dry, windy, hot weather is perfect veld fire weather,” said WoF Mpumalanga spokeswoman Aderi Reyneke.

More fires were raging in the Drakensberg where high winds had grounded fire-fighting helicopters.

WoF is a government-supported veld fire fighting and prevention programme.

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