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Free State farmers assess fire damage

2011-08-25 09:35

Bloemfontein - Farmers in the Free State are assessing damage caused by fires and focusing their efforts on saving their remaining livestock, Free State Agriculture said on Thursday.

"The next 48 hours are crucial to livestock affected by the fire ... we are advising farmers not to drive their remaining animals long distances, and to make sure they have plenty of food and water," said spokesperson Jack Armour.

He said many farmers had lost large numbers of livestock, as well as their grazing land and homes to fires that consumed at least 14 000 hectares of farmland this week.

"The damage assessment is not complete, it will be a while before the full costs of the fire are known," he said.

Donations

Churches and farmers' associations were helping farmers with donations.

Armour said farmers' associations that had not been badly affected by the fires were making donations to others whose fodder banks had been destroyed.

"Donations of molasses have been used to make stored fodder more palatable to the animals, so that they eat enough to recover from the trauma they went through in the fire."

A fire that destroyed farmland in Steynsrus was brought under control at about 19:00 on Wednesday, Working on Fire spokesperson Saayman Rossouw said.

A reduced fire danger index meant that fires were less likely to recur.

On Wednesday, a farm worker died from injuries he sustained while helping farmers to extinguish a fire at Welgerust farm in the Vredefort area.

On Tuesday, strong winds fuelled fires in areas such as Steynsrus, Vredefort, Koppies, Lindley, Kroonstad, Senekal, Edenville and Arlington.

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