North West Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Desbo Mohono has warned the public against burning vegetation during land preparation and disposing of cigarette stubs, matches and lighters where they can potentially cause a fire.

In a statement, the department said accidents, deliberate acts of arson, burning of debris and fireworks are substantial causes of wildfires.

The MEC also cautioned residents from throwing bottles in the veld as they can magnify the sun’s rays and start fires.

“Veld/wildfires affect both rural and urban areas and have the potential to spread out of control, thus we request people to refrain from igniting fires in the presence of oxygen and fuel such as dry grass, brush or trees.”

Mohono urged parents to educate children about the dangers of playing with objects that may cause fire and ensure that these objects are kept out of reach at all times.

The warnings come after the department received several reports of fires in the province.

Mohono said these fires raise an environmental management and sustainability impact concern, and pose risks such as property damage, reduced soil fertility, destruction of vegetation, grazing land for animals, air and water pollution, as well as destruction of wildlife.

“Although human error isn’t the only cause of veld fires, weather conditions and environmental factors such drought, winds and extreme heat can cause fire to spread faster and be extremely dangerous.

“Members of the public are advised to refrain from containing or putting out veld fires themselves, as this may pose a danger to them. Contact specialised personnel immediately upon confirming the presence of wildfire,” said the department.

Source: South African Government News Agency