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Warning Against Fires
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Sunday News - Online
25/09/2013

Public warned against starting fires

THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has warned farmers, members of the public and companies against wantonly starting fires this time of the year as the new fire season has

started.
Speaking to Sunday News last week, Ema’s Midlands provincial Manager Mr Onesimo Bhasera said anyone wishing to start a fire should seek permission from relevant authorities first.

Mr Bhasera’s remarks come in the wake of 21 vehicles that were destroyed last week at a garage in Gweru’s light industrial area, after a veld fire broke out and strayed into the garage premises.

Ema’s Midlands provincial manager warned that anyone caught starting a fire for whatever purpose without permission from Ema, police or Forestry Commission, will be liable for prosecution.

“The fire season is upon us. Actually we are now deep into the season the grass is dry and burns faster which makes it easy for fires to spread. Anyone willing to start a fire for whatever reason, except for domestic purposes such as cooking, should give a two- week notice.

“The notice should be given to Ema, the Forestry Commission, and the police. Neighbours should also be notified in case the fire gets out of hand and one might want assistance in putting out the fire,” said Mr Bhasera.

A notice of intention to start a fire is given in terms of Section 67 (2) (a) of the Forestry Act Chapter 19:05 of 1996.

Mr Bhasera also encouraged members of the public to take note of the weather conditions before starting any fires as some weather conditions make it difficult for the fire to be controlled.

“One should look at the weather conditions to see if they are favourable or not before they start a fire. We do not encourage people to start fires when it is windy because such fires travel at a high speed and are difficult to control.

“If one sees that the weather conditions are not favourable they should postpone the exercise and make a fresh notice,” Mr Bhasera said.

However, Ema notes that cases of veld fires went on a downward trend since 2011 owing to various measures put in place by the agency to educate members of the public against wantonly starting fires.

Last year an estimated 4 809 hectares were destroyed by fire while two children were killed in Shurugwi.

This year an estimated 3 887 hectares have been destroyed by fire so far, while 21 cars were recently reduced to shells after a fire broke out in Gweru’s light industrial area.

Mr Bhasera said Ema anticipates recording a decrease in veld fires cases this year.
“This year we are likely to record a decrease in veld fire cases and I can attribute that to some of the exercises that we have adopted. Our hope is not to record even a single case of fire outbreaks, but this can only be achieved if members of the public cooperate with us,” he said.

“Let me sound a strong warning to those people who are going to be found starting unregulated fires. If we catch anyone in such an act we will not hesitate to use the laws that are at our disposal. Members of the public should also be responsible enough to put out any uncontrolled fires that they may come across,” Mr Bhasera said.


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