AT least eight people died in veld fires in the country during the fire season
Six hundred and seventy seven tickets were issued as well as 82 dockets opened against offenders, according to the 2021 season veld fire report.
The report includes fire risk prediction, fire awareness meetings, development of fire action plans, fire management projects and mobile awareness exercises.
According to the report, fire management is a costly exercise that requires funding to the tune of over US$6 million for effective capacitation of communities and firefighting structures.
“It is sad to note that veld fires are leading to losses of human lives, especially among the vulnerable groups, that is the old and young. A total of eight lives were lost to veld fires. Masvingo recorded two deaths, Mashonaland East had four while Mashonaland West recorded two deaths.
“Veld fires continued to negatively affect strategic infrastructure in the agriculture, tourism and communication sectors.
“Unfortunately, these sectors are key to economic enablers, which are being gutted down by fire,” read the report.
The report also indicated that property worth US$370 837 was destroyed by veld fires countrywide.
“The agency has opened dockets across the country for some fire-related offences.
“A total of 82 dockets were opened across the country. Mashonaland West had 31, Matabeleland South, 22, and Mashonaland East, 17 had the highest number of dockets.
“A follow-up of the orders was done to check for compliance. Property owners that did not comply with the orders were ticketed.
“A total of 677 tickets were issued across the country. Mashonaland West had 214, Mashonaland Central, 146 and Mashonaland East, 83.
“Law and order was enforced to ensure a reduction of hectarage burnt by fires. Orders to farmers, land users, owners, occupiers, lessees, and designated authorities were issued to put in place standard fire management measures.
“A total of 2165 fire orders were issued in the eight rural provinces.”
Research done by the Agency indicates that most fires occurred near roads.
“As such, the responsible authorities have been encouraged to clear road servitudes to reduce runway fires from the road. A total of 3159 kilometre stretch of road servitudes were cleared in the process protecting 7219 hectares of land.
“Areas with high biomass were also engaged in early burning.
“A total of 7567 hectares were cleared using the early burning method.
“In trying to manage, the Agency and other stakeholders, employed several interventions aimed at reducing the impact of fires such as hay baling, grass combing and road servitude clearing the apiculture projects,” added the report.
The 2021 fire season came against the backdrop of normal to above normal rains in the 2020/2021 rainfall season leading to high fire risk of 65.2 percent and extreme fire risk of 24.7 percent.
Studies done by the Agency revealed that provinces at extreme risk were Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland.
Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo were at high risk to veld fires.
Fire monitoring revealed that 3 948 fire incidents were recorded burning 1 033 722.86 hectares of land during the fire season. _*HMetro*_