R16m fire damage at Limpopo game lodge

2011-08-24 22:21

Johannesburg - Fire damage to Sunset Ranch Game Lodge in Thabazimbi, Limpopo, is estimated at R16m, the owner's family said on Wednesday.

"My father put 40 years of work into the game farm. It's his whole life, so the fire has been absolutely devastating," said Chantel van der Merwe.

Eight chalets, the restaurant, bar, offices and a conference centre of the lodge, as well as the owner's house, were gutted when runaway veld fires engulfed the property on Tuesday.

Van der Merwe said most of the wild animals on the farm - including wildebeest, nyala, giraffe and eland - had been killed or had fled from the blaze.

"My father kept two capuchin monkeys that also died in the fire .... They were like his babies," she said.

Up to 60 000ha veld destroyed

On Tuesday between 50 000ha and 60 000ha hectares of veld - mostly game farm land - were consumed by fires that raged between Rooiberg and Leeupoort, Working on Fire's Limpopo spokesperson Alywn Kruger said.

The full impact of the fires on wild life in the area would take several days to assess, Kruger said.

While most of Tuesday's fires had either burnt themselves out or been extinguished, fires were still burning in some mountainous regions on Wednesday.

Two WoF teams were dispatched to "back burn" at the base of the mountains to contain the blaze.

Kruger said the fire danger index - drawn from weather conditions conducive to the spread of fires - had been in the red alert range at 72 on Tuesday, but had fallen to orange alert at 61.

  • Jabulaniboy - 2011-08-25 00:48

    Who started the fires. Where did they start and how?????

      Tokkel Loshi - 2011-08-25 10:06

      Someone chucked a sigrette but out the window again

      GinSA1 - 2011-08-25 10:49

      Was it you Fokkel Bo-nie, who 'chucked' a 'sigrette but'? Or your as retarded brother?

  • Rudi Kay - 2011-08-25 04:42

    Quite often these fires are started through inclement weather (lightning etc.) But whatever, or whoever started it, caused devastation to the family, and I express our deep sorrow at their great loss. If it was arson, may the one who started it burn in hell as well.

      MandlaSithole - 2011-08-25 09:47

      I'd rather the government paid the R2 billion to assist people in these sort of situations.!/pages/Moeletsi-The-President/205134709529957

  • Mandasil - 2011-08-25 05:42

    Sad for all concerned.

  • JBP - 2011-08-25 07:02

    I travel to Limpopo, Ellisras on a weekly basis and it is absolutely scary to see the amount of sigarettes thrown out of car windows, I would sugest heavy penalties / fines for this....

  • Tony - 2011-08-25 07:16

    Cigarette stompies thrown out of car windows are a common cause of veld fires,as are trees left to burn by honey hunters.Sometimes landowners themselves are to blame with 'controlled' burns that run away or with burning rubbish tips. This is the second year in succession that there have been devastating fires in the Thabazimbi area - the landowners must wake up and support their local Fire Protection Association!

      EFFEL - 2011-08-25 07:31

      Tony all these Farmers are part of the Thabazimbi association and very active but how could they prevent a fire fanned by a 50 kmph + wind?,Fire breaks could not stop this fire.I should know ,i have a Farm in Rooiberg but were lucky to escape the blaze due to the winds direction,Also would like to Mention Working on Fire are a great help to us in the Waterberg region,they are worth their weight in Gold

  • stenette - 2011-08-25 08:43

    Sunset Ranch game farm is asking for food donations for the animals that survived the fire. Please contact them if you can help.

  • SGL - 2011-08-25 08:54

    When is South Africa going to start taking action against people starting fires - whether intentional or not? In Australia for eg, if the wind is stronger than a specified number of knots, no fires are allowed - not even braai fires. People not adhering to this law are fined heavily. Arsonists are hunted down and jailed. In America, they have similar laws. Why can't our government do the same? Smokers flicking their cigarette butts out into the dry grass should also be fined heavily - and don't tell me a cigarette butt can't start a fire. @ Effel - if Eskom cables were the cause of this fire, Eskom should be sued for all the damage, including restocking of game. @ Rudi Kay - there was no storm activity in that area. So can't be blamed on lightning this time. Where I am (Northern KZN) we have also had devastating fires - caused by idiots who start unguarded fires to keep warm while they wait for their taxi/bus/lift and when they leave, they don't put out the fire. Their are criminals using this method to lure people out their farm houses so they can rob them while the farmers are fighting the fire. Have any of you noticed that South Africa BURNS? Fly over Africa and you will see that SA has more veld fires than any of the other countries in Africa. Why? Because the rest of Africa LIVES OFF THE LAND ie, their cattle graze, they use the veld for thatching, etc.

      KanaMay - 2011-08-27 14:07

      I know of an Asian country that used to burn the arsonists at the stake. Most houses in Asia were built of wood & other plant materials, so there were many historic fire disasters. Even a teenager who was caught before her attempt was successful was said to have been executed. I don't know what was historically done about the careless smokers, but those who risk causing fires with their stupidity should be fined with the amount of their potential damage.

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