Lincoln Meade fire destroys grazing on 10 farms

2008-08-13 00:00

Firefighters, including some from Richmond, rushed to put out a huge veld fire that destroyed swathes of grazing land across 10 farms on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg yesterday afternoon.

The fire, the cause of which was unknown, also destroyed a large number of rare plants. It started near the Entabeni Memorial Park cemetery in Lincoln Meade at about 2 pm. Firefighters from the Msunduzi Municipality abandoned other small grass fires in Oribi and Northdale to work until late in the evening to put it out.

Senior Division Officer Essack Khan said the fire was the biggest in the city this winter. He said the fire spread across 500 to 600 hectares of farmland.

“We had to summon the [uMgungundlovu] district firefighters, who even brought in fire engines from as far as Richmond,” said Khan.

Khan described the thick smoke, which covered Murray Road and nearby houses, as worse than average. There was a strong wind, which made it difficult to control the fire.

“At least we came on time and managed to save houses,” he said.

Nora Choveaux, co-owner of Broad Leaze Farm, said she was alerted to the fire by people working at the memorial park, which is below the farms. Her farm keeps wild animals and rare plants.

“The whole area turned black. It is the first time we have experienced such a huge fire in the 10 years we have lived on the farm.”

When The Witness arrived at the farm, Choveaux, her co-owner and labourers were fighting the fire, which burnt 120 of the 165 ha farm, despite firebreaks.

One of Choveaux’s reedbucks was seen lying in the burnt area. She was relieved to see it run away.

“We will have to bring in grass for the animals to eat. We will have to monitor if the fire starts again during the night,” said Choveaux.

bhans@witness.co.za

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