Week-long veld fire finally contained

08 Sep 2014 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 08 SEP (NAMPA) - The veld fire which destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of land north and north-east of Windhoek was finally extinguished late on Saturday afternoon after almost a week.
The fire started on 01 September, and was contained and ‘extinguished’ on Thursday at about 19h00, but on Friday the Windhoek Emergency Service was informed at around 10h00 that the fire started all over again.
Chief of the Windhoek Emergency Management team, Raymond Kapia told Nampa on Monday they were informed at approximately 12h00 on Monday about a huge fire north-east of Windhoek in the Otjihase mine area.
A team was sent out to assess the situation, after which a team of firefighters was dispatched to the area.
“The fire was spread over a large area, and the terrain was virtually inaccessible for a normal fire engine, so we dispatched all-wheel drive rough terrain vehicles like the Unimogs and Land Cruisers,” Kapia said.
Although the vehicles are designed for rough terrain, they had difficulties getting into the area, he added.
No property or lives were in danger at any given time, and farmers were mobilised to ensure they protect their properties - some made fire breaks while the fire was still a distance away from their properties.
“'The cause of the fire is still unknown and it is difficult to investigate due to the lack of eye-witnesses,” he said.
The chief of the emergency team expressed appreciation about the performance of the firefighters, saying “although they worked long hours and in difficult circumstances, they managed to put out the fire.”
Kapia also thanked the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) for availing its helicopter to transport team leaders into the mountain to assess the area.
The Namibian Defense Force also availed some soldiers, while the Khomas Regional Council ensured that the firefighters received food and drinks during the operation.
To ensure that the normal operations at the Windhoek Emergency Services continued, the ambulance services of Crisis Response were tasked to handle all emergency medical calls.
Contacted for comment, Percy Openshaw of Crisis Response said they handled around 37 calls during the week.
Meanwhile, Kapia called on residents to ensure they give all relevant information when they call the control room at 061 211 111, so that a fire engine is dispatched to the right place.
He also asked residents to try and avoid going through a third party when calling fire stations as it waste valuable time, and often the third party has no proper information regarding the address, seriousness or situation. This caused delays to get the team to a scene within minutes.
When Nampa visited the Windhoek Emergency Services on Monday morning, several firefighters were cleaning, repairing and maintaining their equipment to ensure that everything is in a working condition should the need arise to use it in any emergency situation.