Another veld fire warning for northern KwaZulu-Natal

Disaster response teams put out fires in the King Cetshwayo District. Picture KZN Cogta

Disaster response teams put out fires in the King Cetshwayo District. Picture KZN Cogta

Published Jul 11, 2024


Durban — Another veld fire warning has led the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), to place disaster management teams on high alert for northern KZN.

According to an impact-based warning by the South African Weather Service, a veld fire warning valid for Thursday from 7am to 5pm was issued.

Affected district municipalities, local municipalities of metropolitans include Abaqulusi, Alfred Duma (Indaka and Ladysmith), Big Five Hlabisa (Hlabisa), Dannhauser, eDumbe, eMadlangeni, Endumeni, Jozini, Msinga, Mthonjaneni, Newcastle, Nkandla, Nongoma, Nquthu, Okhahlamba, Ulundi, uMlalazi and uPhongolo.

Extremely high fire danger conditions are expected across the province’s northern areas.

According to the warning: “Windy conditions with wind gusts of greater than 65km/h as well as dry and warm to hot conditions are expected over the northern parts of KZN tomorrow (Thursday). FDI (Fire Danger Index) is above 75 over these parts of KZN tomorrow (Thursday), which is favourable for (the) development and rapid spread of fires.”

“Reduced visibility, damage to property, damage to vegetation, air and water pollution, and loss of human and/or animal life.”

Advice for residents:

  • Don’t make fires in open areas or leave fires unattended.
  • Don’t throw cigarette butts out of cars or in an open veld.
  • Don’t throw bottles in the veld as they can magnify the sun’s rays and start fires.
  • Prepare and maintain fire breaks in a controlled manner.
  • In case of a large fire, report it immediately and move away from the area to allow professionals to deal with it.
  • If water is scarce, use sand to control the fire.

Cogta MEC Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi urged residents in the northern parts of the province to be alert.

The department said some communities in these areas had already been affected by veld fires, and further precautions were necessary to prevent additional damage and ensure the safety of residents.

“We urge the public to take this warning seriously and cooperate fully with fire safety measures,” the department said.

On Thursday, Buthelezi will visit affected areas in the uMlalazi and Nkandla municipalities.

Meanwhile, the KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dard), has warned farmers of possible veld fires as inclement weather continues.

Dard said that as the province continued to experience damaging winds that could exacerbate the risk of veld fires, farmers should take extra precautions to avoid irrevocable damage during this time.

The department said veld fires could cause catastrophic livestock loss, grazing pastures, crops, farming equipment, infrastructure and life loss.

Dard MEC Thembeni KaMadlopha-Mthethwa also called on farmers, particularly in rural areas, to be extra vigilant as the current weather could have devastating effects.

“Current harsh conditions are posing a threat to farmers and agri-workers in the province. We are mostly concerned about those in the rural areas as fires can quickly spread out of control. To minimise damage in case of a veld fire, farmers should apply all measures of control to protect livestock and their crops. We are monitoring the province for emergencies and we will avail our services working with other stakeholders should the need arise,” KaMadlopha-Mthethwa said.

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