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Fire guts reserve outside city

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Water pipe and fence damage was recorded as a result of the fire

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A VELD fire that broke out just outside Kimberley on Sunday afternoon has scorched roughly 4 000 hectares of veld and has left large parts of the De beers-owned Dronfield Nature Reserve severely damaged.

De Beers spokesperson, Lesedi Ntuli, said yesterday that the cause of the fire, which started on the western side of the N12 at around 1pm on Sunday, was still unknown.

“The fire started on the western side of the N12. The cause is unknown at this stage and it is not clear who was responsible but it will be investigated. The fire jumped the N12 and the firebreak and ignited the veld in the north-western corner of Dronfield, where it rapidly spread throughout the north-eastern section of Dronfield,” Ntuli said.

She added that the fire was contained by 9pm on Sunday evening but it flared up again before being finally being put out during the early hours of yesterday morning.

Referring to damages incurred, Ntuli said that water pipe and fence damage was recorded as a result of the fire.

“Decimation of the thatched bush camp (six chalets and a conference centre) was only saved (with minutes to spare) by the swift action of the firefighting teams. A substantial loss of natural grazing occurred. There were no injuries reported to any staff or people who assisted with putting the fire out.

“At this stage it seems that the game species were able to find refuge from the fire and escape a horrible death. Mortalities of smaller animals like hares and tortoises were recorded.”

Ntuli added that an aerial assessment of the damage indicated impact to an area roughly 4 000 hectare in size and that neighbouring farms also suffered “severe impact”.

She indicated that the fire started on a “neighbouring farm”.

“De Beers Ecology Division would like to sincerely thank everybody that assisted with fighting the fire. This include the De Beers firefighting teams from all our properties, as well as the Sol Plaatje Fire Brigade, members of the Sol Plaatje Fire Protection Association and Kimberley Noord Brandbeskermingsvereniging, neighbours and other concerned citizens,” she concluded.