WOF Mpumalanga assists in 63 fires during July

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GK CRONJE

17 August 2021

The Winter Fire Season officially began on 1 June 2021, and WOF Mpumalanga has recorded a total of 128 fires thus far. “We urge the community at large to practice caution and not start unnecessary fires as we are expecting windy and dry weather conditions, which fuel a runaway veld or forest fire,” Mthembu added.

Suzuki Ermelo (WEB) 22 September 2020.jp

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Working on Fire Mpumalanga teams and the Forest Support Programme (FSP) teams assisted partners in combating numerous fires during July, while navigating the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Injaka FSP team was the busiest team in July, and was dispatched numerous times to the fireline to assist the Lowveld Escarpment Fire Protection Association (LEFPA). The Ermelo team, who are partnered with Msukaligwa Local Municipality, were deployed several times and in one call out, the team lived up to WOF objectives of Saving Lives when they managed to prevent housing structures from catching flames at an informal settlement in their region.

The month of July saw an increase in fires due to extreme weather conditions, which contributed to the high Fire Danger Index (FDI). A total of 63 fires were recorded, and no injuries were reported. According to Working on Fire Mpumalanga Provincial Coordinator, Gert van der Westhuizen, this is an increase from June, where teams assisted in 43 fires. “WOF Mpumalanga and FSP teams remain on high alert, because we are approaching the halfway mark of the fire season. We are expecting a lot of teams to be dispatched to assist partners in August because it is a windy month,” said WOF Mpumalanga Communication Officer, Amanda Mthembu. Besides fire suppression operations, WOF Mpumalanga and FSP teams are also hard at work conducting various Integrated Fire Management Services (IFMS), which include Prescribed Burns and raising awareness in their communities with Fire Awareness educational workshops and door-to-door campaigns.

The Winter Fire Season officially began on 1 June 2021, and WOF Mpumalanga has recorded a total of 128 fires thus far. “We urge the community at large to practice caution and not start unnecessary fires as we are expecting windy and dry weather conditions, which fuel a runaway veld or forest fire,” Mthembu added.