Welgevonden fires

During October 2010 a number of fires occurred on Welgevonden.

One of the fires entered Welgevonden from Marakele National Park and kept the Welgevonden Management team and a number of the lodge staff occupied for about 5 days.

All efforts were initially made to keep the fire from burning through the reserve but due to very high temperatures and un predictable gusty winds, that contributed to a very high fire danger index (FDI).

These efforts proved unsuccessful and protecting the lodges ahead of the fire became priority. On Saturday night incredible winds blew for what felt like an eternity. This took a fire, that was close to being under control, totally out of control and spread it far and wide. By chance all personal were regrouping and eating in an area that proved to be safe against these extreme conditions. If this was not the case the loss of life and equipment could have become a very nasty reality.

After this fire storm efforts were again focused on protecting vulnerable lodges and trying to prevent the fire leaving areas of Welgevonden and spreading to neighbouring properties. There were also still areas where teams were trying to and succeeded in preventing the fires entering Welgevonden.

Eventually the weather changed and the entire districts farmers and community managed to bring the fires under control with the assistance of helicopters etc. Welgevonden was fortunate in that no lodges or major infrastructure was lost, although it was extremely close on a few occasions. Only a few water and power lines needing repair or replacement. Only a handful of the larger game species needed to be destroyed due to injuries sustained during the fire.

The fact that Welgevonden had applied a late summer burn in the southern area and had an accidental fire in the central area was a major contributing factor in that the game was not trapped against fences and had a safe refuge to enter in the face of the intensive fire.

A personal account of the fire as written by Kerry Botha who joined and assisted the Welgevonden management team while fighting the fires can be downloaded here.