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Southern Free State fires biggest in province history

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On 12-13 July 2021, 104 235ha of farmland was burned to the ground. According to Dr Jack Armour, Free State Agriculture commercial manager, these fires represent the single biggest fire event recorded in the Free State province.

“Official figures released 22 July by the Free State Umbrella Fire Protection Association (FSUFPA) indicate that grazing land, livestock and game farms were devastated.”, said Armour.

The report indicates that 396 farms portions were burned in total, 35 of which burned 100%, 134 burned 90%, and 216 farms burned more than 50% of their surface area.

Burn damage (ha and %) of the 12-13 July fire that started near Petrusburg in the Southern Free State

Stats Ha % # of farms
 ha 100% burn 4 948 5% 37
ha > 90% burn 43 528 42% 134
ha > 75% burn 67 801 65% 197
ha >50% burn 88 237 84% 261
Total Burn 104 845   396

According to the FSUFPA report, “The fire started around 12 July at 11:00 about 22 km south of Petrusburg. The fire burnt in a southerly direction and then moved in an easterly direction. The fire raged for over 27 hours traversing a 100km. Conditions were ideal for extremely dangerous runaway veld-fires with cold dry 70km/h winds to which farmers of the Fire Protection Associations were powerless”.

According to Free State Agriculture (FSA) the cost in loss of grazing pasture is estimated to be a R345.5 million. In addition, the early estimate of livestock and infrastructure loss amounts to R33.5mil.

FSA makes an appeal to the public for support for the farming community in the devastated areas. Anyone wishing to assist the affected farmers, can do so by visiting FSA’s website

Alternatively, financial contributions can be made to Vrystaat Landbou, ABSA, Account nr: 470940670, Branch: 632005 with reference “FIRES” + cell number.

The FSA office can be contacted on 051-444 4609 or for contact details of feed drop off point coordinators.