Veld fire warning issued for Free State

The Free State Umbrella Fire Association (FSUFA) has issued an urgent veld fire warning for the province for today and tomorrow, according to the association’s general manager, Thinus Steenkamp.

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The high day temperatures coupled with low humidity could result in veld fires, and open fires should be avoided for the time being.

“Veld fires remain a serious threat despite the fact that vast tracts of grazing had been destroyed by the drought. The vegetation load in the north-eastern Free State, for example, is still in a good condition,” he said.

He also urged landowners and farmers to be especially vigilant about fires originating from open fires at farmworkers’ homes. The majority of veld fires are caused by faulty power lines, open fires by the roadside, vehicle accidents, and from workers’ homes, he said.

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“Poor management of municipal dumps is also a problem. The Phumelela municipality had been criminally charged in terms of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998, after a devastating fire spread from the Warden dump in 2015. The case is still pending,” he said.

Only 150 000ha had been burnt so far this year, which is about two thirds less than the corresponding period last year.