Farmer Suffers Severe Burns in Runaway Fires

Farmer Suffers Severe Burns in Runaway Fires

Massive widespread damage have been reported after fires destroyed over 100,000 hectares of farmland in the Free State. Reportedly the fire started during a service delivery protest on Monday. Strong winds and dry grassland have sustained the fires that spread far and wide, destroying everything in its path. Game and Livestock have fallen victim to the flames, while infrastructure and private property was decimated. Tewie Nel, a 28-year-old farmer, was trapped in the fire while attempting to put it out. Nel is fighting for his life in a Bloemfontein hospital after sustaining second and third degree burns over 40% of his body. Tewie’s father, a former Orthopaedic Surgeon, spoke to media: “Both is hands and arms, both legs, his back, his side and stomach were burnt and he sustained second-degree burns to his face.” The fires were the worst seen in the province for years. Jack Armor of the Free State Agricultural Organisation said: “In some situations, cattle ran as far as seven farms to escape the fired. Although there was no loss of life, we are aware of farmers who have suffered serious burns and we wish them a speedy recovery.” The Freedom Front Plus released a statement claiming that protesting Tokologo residents started the fire when they torched a water tank. Fires spread quickly from there. “Commercial as well as emerging farmers in the area already suffered severe losses prior to the fires due to the long drought and the current poor economic climate. These farmers will not be able to recover from the millions of rand of damage caused by the fires on their own without government aid,” said FF Plus provincial leader Jan Van Niekerk. Police spokesman Brigadier Motantsi makhele said JoJo tanks were damaged and 17 people appeared in the Hertzogville Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property. “They were all granted R1,000 bail each…seven of them could not afford it and had to remain in custody pending their next court appearance on 5 November,” he said.  




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