Kokstad farms damaged in fire

2010-10-12 00:00

KOKSTAD farmers were left counting their losses after a fire fuelled by strong winds and dry weather raged through their farms yesterday, causing substantial damage.

The fire is believed to have started on a farm where timber had been harvested, and it destroyed living quarters, grazing and hay bales of an adjacent dairy farm as well as a plantation that was was yet to be harvested.

One of the affected landowners, dairy farmer Cyril Mhlatshana, said farmers have called for the incident to be declared a disaster, and that a local disaster management team is going to evaluate the extensive damage on the farms.

He said the fire started at about noon yesterday. He said he saw smoke coming from a neighbouring timber farm that borders on a residential area.

When he went to investigate, he saw the fire raging through the off- cuts and strips of bark left after harvesting the timber.

“I rushed home to prepare for the fire, but before I got there the fire, fuelled by the dry weather conditions and the wind, had jumped from the timber farm and was now burning my farm.”

Mhlatshana said the fire razed several structures, including living quarters and a barn where he kept bales for his livestock.

He estimated that about 70% of his farm was burned and that he has been left with more thabn R70 000 worth of damage to structures at his farm.

“One person whom I would say lost the most would be my other neighbour, who is a timber farmer, because his pine forest which is about four hectares, was yet to be harvested and it was all burned,” said Mhlatshana.

He said he does not know how the fire started.

“From what I heard, someone had made an outside fire and it jumped and after that damage was done.”

A Kokstad municipal disaster management official confirmed they had been told of the fire and would be investigating.

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