FIVE people were killed while property valued at over US$230 000 was destroyed by veld fires that consumed over 750 000 hectares of land this year.
More than 3 100 wild fires were recorded during this year’s fire season up from 848 last year. A total of 858 farmers have also been fined for failing to put in place standard fireguards, and for starting fires that caused extensive damage to the environment.
Environmental Management Authority (EMA) environmental education and publicity manager, Mrs Amkela Sidange, told The Sunday Mail that incidences of veld fires were on the increase.
“A total of 370 veld fire incidents that burnt 99 342,88 hectares of land were reported in the week ending October 1 2021,” she said.
“Since the beginning of the veld fire season, a total of 3 175 fire incidents burning 757 751 hectares of land were recorded. The cumulative burnt area translates to a 54,05 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020 where 491 883,06 hectares were burnt from the recorded 848 veld fires.
“Veld fires have destroyed agricultural produce, equipment, household property and plantations worth US$234 057.”
The majority of the veld fires have been recorded in resettlement areas in Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces.
“The major causes of the veld fires were anthropogenic in nature being land clearing (31,58 percent), arson (15,79 percent), illegal mining (36,84 percent), poor ash disposal (15,79 percent) and children playing with fire,” Mrs Sidange said.