High alert for fires

High alert for fires

05 August 2011

published by www.thenewage.co.za

South Africa — Emergency services, including firefighters, are on high alert during this dry season in most parts of the province.

“Fire engines are on standby in all five districts of the province and people are urged to call the emergency number 0800222111 when they need assistance to fight raging veld flames,” advises Dioketseng Diale, spokesperson for the department of local government and housing.

“But people should respect nature and desist from igniting fires that destroy the environment,” he cautioned.

President of the National African Farmers Union Joe Gondo said uncontrolled veld fires were a threat to food security.

“Raging flames burn out large tracts of dry lands, destroying grazing for live stock, which could die or fall prey to diseases,” Gondo warned.

“I know for a fact that some unscrupulous elements set grazing fields alight to force cattle owners to come and buy fodder from them.

“This is pure sabotage,” he added.

Francois van den Berg, president of Agri Limpopo, advised people to be on the lookout, saying the dry grass and the long winter had created conditions for veld fires.

Van den Berg said: “Make sure firefighting equipment is ready and also have your emergency disaster management numbers ready.”

However, no serious damage due to wild fires has been reported so far, except for an incident in June, in which a runaway fire on a farm near Tzaneen burnt two workers to death.

The department also urges people call the toll-free emergency numbers when they are threatened by swarms of bees.

“We have bee catchers on our data base to call in cases where bees are posing a threat to people,” added Diale.

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