R16m fire damage at Limpopo game lodge

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.


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