AN unprecedented upsurge in veldfires, averaging five per day, has destroyed buildings, causing losses running into millions of dollars.

BCC acting chief fire officer Jabulani Ndlovu, who said the fires were also polluting the environment, told Southern Eye that they are being mostly caused by people carelessly discarding lit material.

“The city is battling an average of five veldfires per day, with properties worth millions of dollars being destroyed daily.

“The first grass fire was recorded in May this year, which resulted in vast land pasture being destroyed. The Plumtree Kombani Lodge was destroyed, and yesterday, a thatched structure costing millions in local currency was destroyed. We are yet to get an update from the assessors. Most of these veldfires are caused by carelessly discarded lit material,” Ndlovu said.

Matabeleland and Midlands provinces have been severely affected by veldfires at a time when most local authorities are ill-equipped to deal with them.

On Monday, a veldfire gutted a thatched two-roomed house on Munn Road, Fortunesgate, Bulawayo. Environment minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, who is also Bulilima East legislator, said the fire incidents were worrying and urged property owners to create fire guards.

“As an MP, I have observed that veldfires are destroying property, pastures, and are killing animals. The amount of emissions is huge.  An example is what happened to Kombani lodge, where the fire started from the Vehicle Inspection Department and it was put out.  It later ignited from a branch of a tree next to the lodge resulting in the lodge being gutted down,” Ndlovu said.

He said poor communication resulted in the building being burnt down and urged companies to work with communities to disseminate information on veldfires.

Source Newsday