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Public cautioned on the responsible use of fire – Wildfire blazes through 499,344 hectares

Public cautioned on the responsible use of fire – Wildfire blazes through 499,344 hectares

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism has called upon members of the public, farmers, and property owners to put measures in place to minimize the risk of veld fires.

The fire season started in April and so far the ministry has recorded a total of 499,344 hectares burned by uncontrolled fires, ministerial spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda said in a statement this week.

The fire season is usually characterized by strong winds, high temperatures, and dry vegetation resulting in a fire burning uncontrollably, he noted.

“ Although some parts of the country did not receive sufficient rain this year, there are regions which have significant fuel load. Hence, the Ministry has activated fire management systems to deal with this expected natural disaster. The Ministry will be implementing its fire management strategy which entails fire prevention and suppression activities, community outreach programs, education and awareness as well as stakeholder engagement,” he said.

According to Muyunda, before the fire season, the ministry has been engaged in developing and maintenance of firebreaks.

“To this end, 33km of fire breaks have been cleared across the country and work is ongoing. We further would like to call upon charcoal producers to adhere to charcoal production guidelines developed by the Ministry in 2022,” he said adding that they have also engaged in facilitating early burning in community forests as well as training community members.

In 2021 the country recorded a total of 3 million hectares burned areas, while in 2022, 2.4 million hectares were burned including forests, bush woodland, and grassland in various regions across the country. In addition, during the 2022 fire season, a total of five people sustained serious injuries, unfortunately, three people lost their lives in addition to livestock and wildlife losses.

“We recognize that fire can be resourceful, however, we want to caution that if not used responsibly fire can be destructive and detrimental to the environment and our wellbeing,” he said.

In the event a fire breaks out, Muyunda said it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to participate in firefighting and suppression activities.

“Please report all fire incidents to the nearest MEFT office, NAMPOL office, Constituency office, Regional council, and town council offices, as well as to the Traditional Authority offices,” he concluded.


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