Written by Helen Duigan
The Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy has experienced one of the worst veld fire seasons, and claimed another casualty - the home of artist Willem Snyman in Hennops River.
Willem was not at home on the 1st of August when the fire, coming from a neighbouring property, jumped his firebreaks and totally demolished his house.
Efforts to quell the blaze were fruitless. “We did what we could,” said neighbour Wim Schimmel, “but the heat was such that we could not get near the house. We could not save a thing.”
One of Willem's Huskies and a cat died in the fire, a terrible death for any creature.
Willem's worst losses were his artwork, photographs and the animals. “It's like losing a record of your life,” he said. “My whole studio and 20 years of art totally incinerated.”
The origin of the fire, thought to have come from veld grass being burnt during the day, is being investigated.
Ironically, more efforts were made doing firebreaks this year in parts of the Conservancy than previous seasons. Neighbours formed teams and burnt extensive firebreaks over vacant properties. But fierce winds drove one fire across several of these, causing much damage to trees, livestock, feed and fencing. As always, some fires were caused by negligence (careless welding, burning rubbish dumps or making fire breaks in the middle of the day) as well as deliberate arson.
Helen Duigan is the Editor of VeldTalk, the newsletter of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy