South Africa’s agricultural sector is soon expected to release estimated damage figures from the wildfires that are still raging through the western Free State in which about 100 000 hectares have been razed to the ground.
This after service delivery protesters allegedly set fire to a Jojo-tank on the R708 on Sunday, resulting in runaway fires sweeping through farms in Hertzogville, Dealesville and Boshof.
According to Free State Agriculture (FSA) business director Dr Jack Armour, the fire is the worst the region has experienced in decades, and although the situation is under control, the affected areas are not yet out of danger.
He also applauded the arrests of suspected arsonists responsible for starting the fires which were fanned by high winds and extreme heat conditions.
Afrikaans farmers’ magazine Landbouweekblad reported that the fires had been brought under control by Tuesday but sporadic flare-ups over a wide area made it difficult to bring the situation under control.
Footage has also been circulated of crop dusters used to douse fires making their way from Boshof towards Kimberley.
And although the fires didn’t claim any lives, several farmers are said to be have been badly burnt in efforts to save livestock, game and property that had been razed to the ground.
Armour said hundreds of animals had died in the fire.
Earlier this week several messages were circulated via social media, sketching a scene of utter devastation, with some farmers pleading for help while others had lost everything.
One message told of carcasses seen hanging on a fence when game tried but failed to escape a wall of flames moving across the land.
FSA has since donated R100 000 in relief aid but additional help is needed.
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