DA calls for state of disaster in fire-swept FS areas

DA party leader in the Provincial Legislature, Roy Jankielsohn,
The DA in the Free State is calling on Premier Sisi Ntombela to declare a state of disaster in the areas of Hertzogville and Hoopstad following runaway fires.

The party’s leader in the Provincial Legislature, Roy Jankielsohn, says the agricultural community in these areas is in dire need of urgent assistance from the government. He says they have written a letter to Ntombela requesting her to declare the area a disaster area as this will facilitate the allocation of the necessary resources to assist affected communities.

OFM News earlier reported that Working on Fire has confirmed at least 100 000ha had been burned. Its spokesperson, Wayne Mokhethi, said the runaway fires have so far destroyed farming land, properties, as well as livestock. He confirmed their teams have been battling this fire since Monday and the firefighting efforts are continuing.

It is alleged that the fire broke out during protests by local residents of the township over water issues. It has further been alleged the fire started on the R708 and the flames spread quickly in the veld, which led to multiple fires that then raged in the direction of Dealesville, Bultfontein, and Hoopstad.

Mokhethi said the recent heatwave and strong winds, coupled with the Fire Danger Index being Red, have fuelled the situation.

Whilst Mokhethi says there has been progress in containing the fire, the party says the provincial government urgently needs to intervene to assist the farming communities.

“The resources required are urgent and any support to the local agricultural sector cannot be subjected to bureaucratic delays,” said Jankielsohn in a statement.