Bloemfontein - Thousands of hectares have been destroyed in the Free State by veld fires, fanned by strong winds, the Volksblad newspaper reported on Monday.

“This is a disaster, I have never seen something such as this,” farmer Sias Hoffman, from Dewetsdorp, told the newspaper.

He said he was grateful for what he had left, but that many farmers had lost everything. His son and farmworker were injured in the fires and were treated for burns.

Farmers in various districts could do nothing but watch as their grazing and animals were destroyed by the runaway fires, the newspaper reported.

Huge damages were reported in the Dewetsdorp and Wepener districts, in the southern Free State, and in Memel, in the eastern Free State.

Veld fires were also reported at Hobhouse, Smithfield, Bloemfontein, Karee, Brandfort, Kroonstad, Ladybrand, Fouriesburg, Ficksburg and Clocolan.

Free State department of agriculture spokesman Malcolm Procter said more than 20 veld fires had been reported since Saturday in the Free State. - Sapa