Monday, October 01, 2007

VISITORS DIE IN BERG FIRE

Tourists die in RNNP fire

September 26, 2007;

 MEDIA RELEASE No: 11 - 2007
 
 VISITORS DIE IN BERG FIRE
For immediate release
 
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife reports that two visitors to the Royal Natal National Park section of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site died when they were caught in the flames of a runaway veld fire that had swept into the Park from across the Tugela River last week.
The two visitors appear to have arrived early at Thendele Camp and while waiting to check in, had gone for a walk along the path to Tiger Falls which lies between Thendele and the Mahai Campsite.
Unbeknown to them a runaway fire, fanned by strong winds, had swept across the nearby Tugela River and was heading towards Thendele.
The fire swept very rapidly up the slope towards the Tiger Falls area, where it apparently engulfed the couple who were at that stage still walking along the path, burning them to death.
Local Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff are working closely with the SAPS to confirm the identity of the two visitors and to determine the chain of events that led to the tragedy.
The fire damaged the thatched roofs of several of the Thendele Camp accommodation units but staff were able to prevent the flames from taking hold, and also entered a nearby indigenous forest  where it penetrated the leaf litter.
Ezevemlo KZN Wildilfe staff battled for three days to extinguish the flames that continuously kept flaring up as wind fanned glowing embers hidden in the forest floor.
Drakensberg veld fires are notoriously dangerous when fanned by high winds as they move extremely rapidly, are intensely hot, and burn over a deep and wide front, the flames skimming swiftly along the grass tops in the front of the fire and then burning down.
Such a "fire-front" can be hundreds of metres wide, is extremely hot and can be tens of metres deep.
 

 AJG/ Media Release No: 11-  2007
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