SA experiences fewer wildfires in June

Compared to the preceding four years, there were far fewer wildfires in June this year, South Africa’s winter fire season.

The country’s government-funded Working on Fire (WoF) programme reported that it attended to 68 wildfires across the country last month. These fires collectively damaged an estimated 1 172ha of rural land.

According to WoF, of the 68 wildfires, 23 occurred in Mpumalanga, 14 in the Eastern Cape, 10 in KwaZulu-Natal, nine in Gauteng, five in Limpopo, four in the Free State, and three in the Western Cape.

WoF spokesperson Linton Rensburg, attributed the lower number of wildfires to drought conditions and the associated reduction in fuel loads, as well as improved wildfire prevention and improved relationships between role players, including private rural landowners.

“Through [WoF’s] engagement with these sectors, we have seen a much more vigilant implementation of our integrated fire management plans,” said Rensburg.

Simon Thomas, operations manager for the KZN Fire Protection Association (FPA), said the role of fire protection associations in wildfire prevention and fighting efforts in SA’s rural areas could not be underestimated. All rural landowners are legally bound to belong to their local FPA and adhere to their rules and regulations.

Thomas urged SA’s rural landowners and residents to “keep an eye on the weather forecasts, make sure your [fire-fighting] equipment is serviced and working properly, join your local FPA, and do not start a fire you cannot stop”.

Rensburg said rural landowners and residents who needed assistance with preparing an integrated fire management plan for their property could contact WoF on 013 741 6400, email [email protected], or visit workingonfire.org.