“Landowners must also ensure that reasonable measures are taken to keep the area around any structures on their property clear and easily accessible,” said the Mopani District Municipality spokesperson, Witness Tiva.
Tiva said that during the recent fire which occurred at a lodge near Modjadji Royal Kraal, both the Modjadjiskloof and Tzaneen Fire Stations responded to the scene but due to inaccessibility they were unable to save the property from the raging fire.
“On arrival, it was found that the property was inaccessible by road due to the dense encroachment of vegetation. This presented a major problem as access to the thatched structures was blocked and unsafe to enter,” he said.
As a result, the Mopani’s Fire & Rescue Services activated aerial resources through the Letaba Fire Protection Association.
This included two Huey helicopters and one spotter aircraft. Kobus Visser, Chief Fire Officer of the Mopani District Municipality, acted as the incident commander. Using all available resources, the fire was eventually contained and extinguished, but unfortunately, none of the thatched structures could be saved.
“We would once again like to remind the public that fire danger will remain high until the onset of the rainfall season. Due to the poor rainfall in the recent past and high daytime temperatures, vegetation health has deteriorated significantly,” said Tiva.
He said the current poor state of vegetation health is clearly evident and, until the onset of the rainfall season, and given the high daytime temperatures and low relative humidity currently being experienced, this drying trend is set to continue.
“We thus advise extreme caution, even within urban areas. The current no-burning policy should be strictly adhered to, to prevent the development and spread of wildfires,” he said.
A fire plan has been developed by the Mopani District Municipality Disaster Management Centre.
The plan enables the deployment of resources to fire scenes and the rapid response prevent the development of a significant runaway fire saving property as a result.
Should any fires or other emergencies occur anywhere within the Mopani District, please do not hesitate to contact the Mopani Emergency Communication Centre on (015) 306-7000 or (015) 307-5555.