8 die as blazes tear through KZN

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IOL  nm fires TWITTER Fires burn between Kokstad and Cedarville. Picture: Laura Johnson

Durban - Fires wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, leading to eight confirmed deaths, extensive loss of livestock and destruction of property.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, sent disaster relief teams to parts of the Abaqulusi Municipality (Vryheid area), Kokstad and some of the Ugu district. It was reported that fires propelled by gales ripped through veld and residential areas.

Department spokesman Lennox Mabaso said: “We know of six deaths in Kokstad and two near Vryheid. However, our teams are still assessing the damage.”

The Kokstad fire was still burning on Monday night.

Dube-Ncube said: “The cause of these tragic wildfires is unclear at this point and disaster management teams are working hard to contain the fires.”

The deputy mayor of the Abaqulusi Municipality, Nonkululeko Ndela, said a man died in KwaMnyathi, ward 5, and a woman in ward 22. “The woman died on her way to hospital after her house caught alight.”

Ndela said the woman’s home and 100 others were near a dump, and the rubbish helped spread the fire. The municipality was committed to finding better housing for these residents.

Dube-Ncube said: “The families affected are receiving assistance, and disaster relief kits have been dispatched. Households have also been evacuated in areas where there is a possibility that the fire could cause further damage. The priority is to contain the fire and rescue people. We are engaging with departments such as Home Affairs and Human Settlements to help families that have lost IDs and birth certificates.”

Mabaso said: “People are warned that the province is still experiencing high levels of humidity and strong winds, and remains at high risk of exposure to veld fires.”

Malume Masho tweeted on Monday: “Horrific scenes outside Cedarville to Kokstad, wildfires killed cattle. Nothing and no one should die from fire.”

Laura Johnson said: “Runaway fires in Kokstad and Cedarville. Farmers have lost everything.”

Gutta Nyamela tweeted: “Fire is destroying everything in Harding, Kokstad and Ngele Mountain.”

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