More than 25 000 hectares of agriculture destroyed due to veld fires in the Free State

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Raging veld fires in Ventersburg, Virginia, and some parts of Winburg and Bloemfontein have gutted about 40 farms. More than 25 000 hectares of agricultural land have been destroyed.
This follows runaway veld fires that started on Friday.
The assessment of the exact impact of the fires is still under way. Authorities say the fire has now been put off but windy conditions are still threatening re-ignitions.
Free State Umbrella Fire Protection Association says statistics show that more than 80% of all veld fires are caused by human negligence. Six chalets at Aldam Nature Resort have gone up in flames. The fire has left a trail of destruction.
Aldam nature resort manager, Rudy Smit says, “We have obviously, like a lot of farmers in the area, lost a lot of feeding ground. We have lost six of our units that burned down, but we are feeling lucky with the support of everyone in the vicinity. At least we can still operate normal.”

Farmers have been hard hit.

Livestock, game, grazing land and some infrastructure has been destroyed.

Doors Kruger is one of the affected farmers.

“I have lost about 1ooo hectares of my farm that is 2100 hectares which about 50% of the grazing that I have lost. It is bad because grazing is more important as cattle farmers we are grazing farmers. But that is part of life. We must be positive in going forward. At least I still have some grazing left.”

Fire fighters remain on high alert.

Provincial Operations Manager of the Free State Umbrella Fire Protection Association, Jan de Villiers has warned that the peak of the fire season has commenced.

“The affected areas is about 25 000 hectares. We will calculate the exact areas that have been affected until now. There’s a report of substantial stock losses and also assets that have been damaged like fences, water pipe lines and buildings on farms. And then also damage in Aldam Holiday Resort and the fire went to the William Pritorious Game Reserve.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Tourism and Economic Development, Kgotso Tau says runaway fires have set back an already ailling tourism industry.

“Now that we are in the middle of tourism month where we believe that we can re-ignite and revive tourism, where we can ensure that travellers and visitors alike are receiving  and getting the best that the Free State can offer in the form of its open skies, tranquility, nature, heritage as well as leisure and adventure.”

Road signs along the N1 have also been gutted by the raging veld fires.

Veld fires leave a devastating trail of damage in the Free State: