By Munyaradzi Musiiwa
An 80-year-old man from Gokwe North died in an inferno trying to put out a veld fire which he had started while working in the fields.
It is understood that the now deceased, Michael Mazambuko of Marandu Village under Chief Chireya in Gokwe North, was working in the fields when he decided to burn weeds in preparation for the summer cropping season.
It is suspected that the fire became uncontrollable and raged towards grazing land.
Mazambuko tried to put out the fire, but was overwhelmed and it engulfed him. He was subsequently burnt to death.
Mr Musasiwa said veld fire also destroyed at least five hectares of land.
“I can confirm that there was a veld fire in Ward four under Chief Chireya, Gokwe North,” he said.
“The fire killed one person who was identified as Michael Mazambuko aged 80 of Marandu Village. It is suspected that he died as a result of suffocation and heat stroke while trying to put out the fire
“It is alleged that on the fateful day the deceased left his homestead around 8am to go and burn weeds and stover at his field. At around 11am, his wife and son saw a thick cloud of smoke coming from the direction of the crop field where Mazambuko was working.
“The deceased’s wife and his son rushed to the field to assist him. When they got to the fields, they failed to locate Mazambuko and tried to put out the fire. The deceased’s body was later discovered at around 3pm.”
Mr Musasiwa said the fire did not destroy any property.
“The fire, which razed five hectares of grazing land, missed a neighbour’s homestead by a whisker,” he said.
“The matter was reported to police. The deceased suffered burns on the legs, back and arms.”
Mr Musasiwa appealed to the public to avoid starting open fires outside residential properties.
He said the risk of fires spreading and causing veld fires was quite high during the fire seasons. The fire season begins in July and ends in October each year.
Mr Musasiwa said Midlands Province had lost more than 90 000ha to veld fires.
“The high temperatures prevailing in the country are also contributing to the veld fire risk thus farmers are encouraged to desist from starting fires outside their residential properties,” he said.
“The Midlands Province has lost over 90 000 hectares of land to veld fires so far.”