Alarming Fire Statistics for Mkhondo. It is quite astonishing to think that the Mkhondo Municipal area had an estimate of 4 477 fires from January 2017 until August 2017, with August alone having 1 383 reported fires, yet the fire danger is not over yet.
On Tuesday, the 3rd of October, FPO (Fire Protection Officer), Mr Graham Wright, said that the number of fires for the last seven days only, amounted to 130 throughout the Mkhondo area. Definite figures for September 2017 are not yet available and will be published once the fire season comes to an end.
Mr Wright confirmed to the Excelsior News that all 4 477 fires were intentional and no reports of lightning fires have been received. The most recent fires were all started due to intercommunity disputes. It seems that community members residing on the same land, all claim to be the rightful owners of the land, yet they deliberately burn the land down.
The local FPA appointed two teams from Working on Fire for the month of September. In total, an extra fifty fire fighters were available during the peak of the fire season and it made a huge difference to have these extra ground resources. The Working on Fire teams were initiated and paid for by the local FPA members and the teams returned to KwaZulu- Natal on Monday, 25 September.
Putting an estimate value on damage done through the fire season is almost impossible. Mr Wright mentioned that equal amounts of grazing land and timber were lost thus far. It is often mistakably thought that timber has more value than grazing fields, but the value of hay that has to be bought once the grazing fields are lost, increase farmers’ costs drastically.
Luckily, the farmers who were affected by fires destroying their grazing fields were prepared and the animals are not suffering as ample food sources are available. As the end of the fire season is closing in and promising rain is awaited, a final report of this year’s fire season statistics and estimated damages will be published at a later stage.
Thank you to each and every one who has been involved in combating fires throughout the season so far. Your dedication and willingness is highly appreciated.