Lack of government resources ‘exacerbated’ Free State fire damage

“Disaster management services in the Free State are underfunded, under resourced and understaffed. The province requires a minimum of 29 additional fire engines and 73 additional trained personnel per shift to meet the basic standards for effective disaster management,” he said.

Some 200 000ha were lost to veld fires in the Free State in August 2014. Twelve fires followed during the first week in September.

The full extent of the damage caused by fires has yet to be determined yet, said Free State Umbrella Fire Association general manager Thinus Steenkamp.

“I can tell you now that the damage is considerable,” he said. “Fires occurred in, among others, Welkom, Clocolan, Clarens and Warden.”

A high fire alert has in the meantime been issued for 9 September, because of the expected high day temperatures and strong winds. Land owners and farmers are called upon to remain extremely vigilant.