Media Statement – Richards Bay Fire

02 October 2023

The fire at Richards Bay Wood Chips, in KwaZulu-Natal, is burning into its third day, despite the gargantuan efforts being made by firefighting personnel and staff from NCT Forestry Agricultural Co-operative Limited, the Municipality and other organisations to extinguish the blaze. Their efforts have been hampered by the unrelenting gale force winds and hot weather conditions in the region over the weekend, which meant the fire spread quickly and air support has been unavailable until the early hours of this morning (Monday 2 October 2023).

While there have been reports of the fire spreading to other parts of Richards Bay, NCT remain grateful that there have not been any other major losses or injury and that those battling the blaze have remained strong and unscathed. Only once the fire has been extinguished, and it is safe for investigators to access the area, can the intricate job of uncovering the initial cause of the fire begin. For the time being, the top priority is to shield the surrounding community from the blaze by focussing all efforts on controlling and extinguishing the fire. Forestry South Africa would like to commend the efforts of all the personnel and organisations who have fought the blaze tirelessly. This includes the staff of NCT, TWK, MONDI, South 32, NTE, Bell, RBCT, RBM, Transnet, the Municipal firefighters and many others and we wish to thank the City and Provincial administrations for their leadership during this challenging time. It is thanks to the immense efforts, coordinated approach and established disaster response protocols from all these people and organisations, that this fire has not spread further.

Our thoughts are with all those affected by this devastating incident, and we wish all involved every strength for the ongoing containment and suppression of the fire.

Michael Peter – Executive Director

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