E Cape fire still burning

  E Cape fire still burning

25 March 2009

published by www.news24.com

South Africa — A devastating fire that has caused millions of rands of damage in the Langkloof, was still burning hectares of fynbos on the summit of the Tsitsikamma Mountain on Tuesday.

According to Jacobus Spangenberg of the Cacadu fire department, the veld near Joubertina was also smouldering on Tuesday.

“The summit of the mountain is burning and it could spread to Tsitsikamma’s side,” said Spangenberg.

He said SANParks and a firefighting helicopter were standing by should the fire reach them.

“We are watching it so it doesn’t get out of control. We will probably withdraw by tonight, as we can’t reach the mountain fire and the flames near Joubertina will then be completely extinguished.”

Sam van der Merwe, local agriculture counsellor from the provincial department of agriculture in the Koukamma district, said the department was already doing a fire damage survey but that the proper extent would still have to be determined.

Rina Ferreira of the farm Klein Langkloof said more than half of their veld and pasture had been destroyed. “The fire is over, but our biggest worry is where our animals are going to get feed.”

Another farmer, Drener Pauw, who also owned the Joubertina Nursery, said mostly fynbos and fencing had burnt on his farm, Vergenoeg.

Emergency prayers for rain

The chairperson of the Joubertina chamber of commerce, Anton van der Mescht, said the town had held an emergency prayer day for rain in the NG Church at 12:00.

“We urgently need rain to fight the fire and drought.”

The Eastern Cape president of Agri-SA, Cerneels Pieterson, said the farmers who had suffered damages to orchards, probably had harvest insurance.

“Those who don’t have insurance, can go through the department and local agricultural associations to apply to disaster management’s national department for financing.”

The fire started on Friday after burning garbage set fire to the dry grass on the farm Die Punt.

More than 20 hectares of pear, apple and apricot trees burnt down, and bee hives, pipelines and telephone poles were destroyed.

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