More fire reaction teams will be deployed to the Waterberg district in Limpopo to help fight an outbreak of veld fires in the region, Working on Fire said on Tuesday.
The parastatal's general manager Samuel Maepa said the province's 16 teams were not enough to cope with the fires and four additional teams had to be called in. Fire spotters and helicopters would also be deployed in the region.
Maepa said Working on Fire discovered that the Waterberg was vulnerable and was exposed to fire because of non-compliance with the National Environment Management Act.
The act required land owners to place fire-breaks on their properties to prevent severe damage when veld fires got out of hand.
“Whenever fire breaks out, it becomes difficult to contain. It will be stopped either by road or natural boundaries, and in the absence of that it is not simple to contain it,” he said.
Maepa said veld fires damaged the country's economy and cost the game farming industry nearly R20 million in 2011.
One of the farms lost nearly R13 million when its animals burnt to death because they were fenced in during a veld fire.
Maepa said the fires were caused by people who wanted to stay warm in the mornings as well as wood collectors who wanted to dry their logs before harvest.
He appealed to communal leaders to take control and ensure that those who were negligent with their fires were prosecuted.
According to its website, Working on Fire is a government-funded, job-creation programme focusing on integrated fire management in South Africa.
Its firefighters are recruited from marginalised communities and trained in fire awareness and education, prevention and fire suppression skills. - Sapa