Lightning has been confirmed as the cause of devastating fires that raged in the Waterberg nearly three weeks ago claiming the life of firefighter Samuel Ramokgaba and leaving in its wake an estimated 200 000 ha of land, wild and domestic animals, buildings and vehicles burnt to ashes.
Working on Fire Limpopo (WoF) Provincial Communications Officer, Matema Gwangwa informed Polokwane Observer of their findings yesterday (Wednesday).
“We have done our investigations and we found out that all fires were caused by lightning. The lack of rain, dry vegetation combined with the heat wave caused the wild fires to burn for days. The mountainous terrain combined with the extremely hot weather had a negative impact on the 260 WoF firefighters as it slowed them down. It was not easy to extinguish the fires. It took the firefighters five days to have the fire under control and to successfully have the fire totally out on the last day,” Gwangwa said.
She also mentioned that they will embark on a campaign to educate land owners, farm workers and the communities on how to fireproof their area, more especially their property. “The team will also go to an extent of training the farm workers in basic fire suppression. We believe that transferring these skills to communities will impact positively and prepare them for the next fire season,” Gwangwa said.
Story: Herbert Rachuene