Raging wood chip fire

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The Excelsior News received several complaints regarding a fire that has been burning just outside of town on the Ermelo road for the past three weeks already.

Upon speaking with the owner of PPCF, Mr Piet Joubert (the property where the fire is ongoing), he confirmed that the huge pile of wood chips that he was storing caught on fire due to unknown reasons. The owner suspects foul play but, this cannot be confirmed.

According to him, they are doing everything in their power to extinguish the fire but, it is not as easy as it sounds. Wood chip fires can not simply be put out by spraying water on it, it will just combust again.

Instead, they have to take smaller piles, wet it and then cover it with a thick layer of soil in order to suffocate it. This is a lengthly process and is exhausting. There are almost 20 people working around the clock to try and get this under control.

The owner said that he was advised by experts that this is the only way to proceed or he could just leave it but, this would mean that the fire would burn for many more years to come. At the rate that they are working, he expects the fire to be extinguished in approximately eight weeks.

During this time, he asks that the community remains patient and humbly apologises for the cloud of smoke that is covering the town.

Mr Joubert is grateful for the opportunity to explain his side of things, as he is receiving regular calls about the smoke from the community.