Namibia — VELD fires are once again raging around Windhoek during the dry season, but the situation is no worse this year despite the record rainy season. The grass is thicker and higher this year due to the good rainy season but this makes no difference to the number of calls we receive regarding veld fires, says the head of operations at the Windhoek Fire Brigade, Carlo Louw.
It is just that time of year.
He says people whose houses border on riverbeds or open veld should clear at least three metres around their property of all plants to prevent veld fires from spreading to their properties.
People should also report veld fires to the fire brigade and not assume that someone else has already done so.
Karl-Heinz Hanssen, the chief of the Otjiwarongo municipalitys emergency services, says about 4 000 hectares of grazing was lost in two major veld fires around the town in the past week.
The first fire started at the towns sewage ponds and spread through the smallholdings to the Outjo road, where it was stopped.
The second started a day later on a farm in the direction of Okahandja. The owner of the farm, Jan du Preez, took Hanssen up in a helicopter so that he could get an aerial view of the fire and dispatch the necessary firefighters.
We have a very good working relationship with the different farmers associations around Otjiwarongo and they help with the fire fighting. Without this co-operation we would not be able to respond so quickly and effectively, says Hanssen.
The co-operation started about 10 years ago when the fire brigade attended farmers days and meetings and gave talks on fire fighting and prevention.
Most of the farmers associations have bought small firefighting units mounted on bakkies and they help the Otjiwarongo fire brigade with the fighting of veld fires.