5 hurt as veld fires cause havoc on roads

Bloemfontein - Five people were hurt and several major roads closed due to veld fires fuelled by strong winds in the northern Free State, North West and southern parts of Gauteng on Tuesday night.

Free State Agriculture representative in the Parys region Tommie Esterhuizen said farmers were fighting fires in various areas of the province.

A fire at Parys, which started in the Vredefort area, was nearly under control early on Tuesday night.

"I cannot tell you at this stage what the damages were, but it was a huge fire. The Koppies Nature Reserve suffered a huge amount of damages."

Esterhuizen said the thick smoke was making work difficult south of Parys. Fires were also raging at Edenville and Heilbron.

SABC news reported that five people were injured when their two cars caught fire near Vredefort, in the northern Free State.

Local Working on Fire spokesperson Saayman Rossouw told OFM radio that 10 firefighting teams had been deployed to Bultfontein, Ficksburg and Clocolan since Monday.

Rossouw said fires were raging in the Steynsrus, Lindley, Kroonstad, Senekal, Edenville and Arlington areas.

Motorists were urged to drive cautiously, due to the heavy smoke.

All the roads surrounding Fochville, which were closed due to a veldfire, have been reopened.

The roads to Johannesburg, Potchefstroom, Ventersdorp and Parys were closed earlier, cutting off Fochville.

Visibility on the roads between Bultfontein and Theunissen was also bad.

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