Harrismith fire death toll rises

2014-09-22 16:29
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - Four people have been killed in a veld fire near Harrismith in the Free State, Working on Fire (WoF) said on Monday.

WoF general manager Willem van Aswegen confirmed reports that a fourth person, who had been in a critical condition after the fire, died in hospital on Saturday night.

Beeld reported that Nico Joubert, 19, was injured during the fire and was taken to a Medi-Clinic hospital in Alberton, Gauteng.

Police spokesperson Simon Makhubo said Joubert was admitted to hospital and transferred to Alberton.

Farmer Johann Mocke, his 15-year-old son Zander Mocke and farmworker Khela Mokoena died in the fire on Thursday.

Initially five people were thought to have died.

Makhubo, however, confirmed that a woman and her 1-month-old baby, who had initially been presumed dead, were found alive.

Provincial WoF spokesperson Limakatso Khalianyane on Friday said two fires started earlier in the week from different directions, met and moved toward the KwaZulu-Natal border.

It was believed the runaway fire may have started when a fire for burning rubbish went out of control.

Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana visited Harrismith on Friday and assessed the damage.

"Thirty-four thousand hectares of grazing land were razed to the ground, 1 000 sheep and 350 herd of cattle also died," his spokesperson Palesa Mokomele said.

Eight farmhouses and other infrastructure were destroyed.

Read more on:    wof  |  senzeni zokwana  |  bloemfontein  |  fire

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