Sugar cane fields destroyed as fire ravages land claim farm

2013-09-27 00:00

A VELD fire seared the Sun Valley farm near Albert Falls yesterday, burning large tracts of sugar cane fields.

The fire started at around 11 am and burned through the day. By 2 pm, the fire was still raging with the Msunduzi fire department and local farmers desperately trying to contain it.

The farmers were burning firebreaks trying to prevent the fire from crossing the road. However, those efforts were in vain as the fire jumped across and set the sugar cane fields alight. The hot weather and the dry sugar cane worsened the situation.

By early afternoon, the fire had burned through at least five fields of sugar cane and damaged a shed. There were fears that at least five cattle that were cornered by the fire in the forest near the farm had been killed.

Mlungisi Nxumalo from the Sun Valley farm said they did not know what caused the fire.

He said the farm was owned by the Emagcekeni Trust, which received it through land reform a few years ago. “We do not have the necessary tools or expertise to fight the fire,” he said.

Mike Mackenzie, a fire officer who was one of the several people working to try and put out the fire, said the land owners did not have any fire breaks, fire fighting equipment, or anyone in charge with expertise in fire fighting. It was estimated that the fire damage to the sugar cane could run to R500 000.

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