BY REX MPHISA THE Beitbridge community is battling several runaway veld fires that have ravaged more than 5 000 hectares of grazing land.
Over the last three days, more than 100 firefighters including villagers have been trying to put down the fires sweeping across resettlement and commercial farms in Beitbridge West.
Most of the affected area is pasture reserve and wildlife areas of this predominantly animal area.
Yesterday, weary firefighters were still on the ground.
“Yesterday we fought three big fires from three sections and managed to put under control two sections…we used the back burning firefighting strategy,” said Forestry Commission’s district officer Zibusiso Ndlovu.
On Friday, Ndlovu’s team fought another fierce forest fire that tore across the River Ranch resettlement area.
Ndlovu said Beitbridge traditional leader Chief Tshitaudze David Mbedzi, Beitbridge administrative officer Jayson Mugodzwa, Beitbridge Rural District Council CEO Peter Moyo and commercial farmer Steven Boshoff teamed up with villagers from the affected Makakavhule to extinguish the raging flames.
Some Beitbridge businesspeople donated water, energy drinks, fuel and other essentials in the fight against the fires.
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“We were joined by villagers from Malala and Makakavhule and Boshoff brought 50 farm workers from the Nottingham Orange Estates,” Ndlovu said.
“Those willing to donate (refreshments) towards fire fighting can do so at the district Development Coordinator’s office.
“Fire fighting is a draining and dehydrating exercise and we need more resources.”
Sources of all these fires were yet to be established.
Under threat are thousands of hectares of grazing land for both domestic and wild animals.
According to the Environmental Management Agency, many veld fires are caused by human activities which include land clearing, hunting, among others.
In 2021, veld fires destroyed a total 408 366.7 hectares of land representing an 84,97% increase during the same period in 2020 when 220 778,79 hectares were burnt.