Zimbabwe — The veld fire which started in the Somabhula area of Gweru rural and later spread to Debshan Ranch on the border with Matabeleland South, burnt to death a 13-year-old herd boy from the Somabhula area and 11 elephants, the Chronicle learnt yesterday. The veld fire which, according to the Environmental Management Agency, was started by a family in the Somabhula area, later spread to as far as Debshan Ranch in Matabeleland South where it reportedly killed the elephants. Midlands police spokesperson Inspector Patrick Chademana yesterday confirmed the death of the 13-year-old boy. “We have received a report that a 13-year-old boy from the Somabhula area was burnt to death by the veld fire. We are however yet to get full details on the circumstances surrounding the death but the boy is said to have tried to escape the veld fire by climbing up a tree which unfortunately also caught fire,” he said. According to witnesses, the boy had gone to round up the family cattle when suddenly he found himself in the heart of the inferno and tried to escape by climbing the tree which later caught fire and the boy was burnt to death,” said the witness. The charred remains of the boy were found the following day by some passersby. The Somabhula boy is the first victim of veld fires this year in the Midlands and the two Matabeleland regions. Last year a 71-year-old woman and a two-year-old boy were burnt to death at Spring Farm in the Kensington area on the outskirts of Bulawayo. In 2005 six school pupils were burnt to death by a veld fire at Debshan Ranch where elephants were killed by this weeks veld fire. Meanwhile, Debshan Ranch farm manager, Mr Colin Edwards, said 11 elephants had by yesterday been confirmed to have been killed when the veld fire spread to the ranch. He said 12 paddocks on the ranch had vegetation completely destroyed by the veld fire. Workers at the farm were yesterday busy removing ivory from the dead jumbos. Mr Edwards said the number of dead elephants could be more, as he was yet to confirm reports of dead elephants in some sections of the farm he and his workers were yet to visit. “The number of confirmed dead elephants is 11 but we continue to receive reports of dead elephants in some sections of the farm,” he said. Mr Edwards said as of 13 August, the number of elephants on Debshan Ranch was 254 and all of them bull elephants. He said the elephants moved in herds of between eleven and 27. “Right now we are still searching for more elephants and only today, we have come across one bull elephant which sustained severe burns and can therefore not eat or drink water. Its trunk was severely damaged by the fire. “We are waiting for members of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to come and kill this wounded elephant,” he said. Mr Edwards said 12 paddocks that were affected by the veld fire had pastures completely destroyed. There has been an upsurge of veld fires this year and recently, a veld fire reduced to ashes Old Bulawayo, the capital of King Lobengula, on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Another veld fire burnt down Matopos Rock Motel along the Bulawayo-Matopos Road.