Club fears more fires

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By SUE MACLEN­NAN

Two weeks af­ter a fire de­stroyed 26 sta­bles at the Gra­ham­stown Rid­ing Club along the Cradock road, the ad­ja­cent land­fill site con­tin­ues to smoul­der. Res­i­dents and club of­fi­cials re­ported smoke from 17 De­cem­ber.

Around 10am on Fri­day 23 De­cem­ber, dozens of horses were hur­riedly evac­u­ated when, in strong winds, a fire spread from that area to the Club’s premises.

The Club fears another blaze when hot, dry sum­mer con­di­tions re­turn. Mean­while, they are count­ing the costs.

“The elec­tric fence is be­ing re­built and we have a guard on the grounds every night to pro­tect our grounds and other as­sets,” com­mit­tee mem­ber Adri­enne Plas­ket said this week.

“We hope to clear away the two burnt blocks of sta­bles this week. There are nails and burnt planks ev­ery­where, which can be a haz­ard to horses.

“We have been most for­tu­nate in that, for the most part, sub­se­quent to the big fire, the winds have been blow­ing east or south-east­erly, car­ry­ing the toxic smoke and the fire dan­ger away.”

Plas­ket, who over­sees the club’s liv­ery fa­cil­ity, said she had not seen any ac­tiv­ity by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to re­pair their own dam­aged perime­ter fence around the dump or to use their grader to cover the still­burn­ing rub­bish with sand.

While the brick build­ings at the sta­bles were in­sured, the two wooden sta­bles weren’t.

“We’re not a wealthy club – we’re a small com­mu­nity club with enough funds for main­te­nance and op­er­a­tions, not cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture,” Plas­ket said. “We un­der­stand the chal­lenges the mu­nic­i­pal­ity faces... but they have an obli­ga­tion to the com­mu­nity and this should not have hap­pened,” Plas­ket said.

“We hope to meet with the mu­nic­i­pal man­ager and ap­pro­pri­ate di­rec­torate heads to dis­cuss a way for­ward.”

The fire oc­curred in warm, dry, windy con­di­tions and af­ter­wards Makana fire ser­vices man­ager Wil­liam Welkom told Gro­cott’s Mail, “We tried to pre- vent the fire from get­ting to the sta­bles but the wind worked against us.”

Of the con­tin­u­ous smoul­der­ing, he said, “We can get our ve­hi­cles into the area and have done so, but it is a very large area… It is a huge task.”

In re­sponse to ques­tions re­gard­ing al­le­ga­tions made on so­cial me­dia of poor man­age­ment of the sit­u­a­tion at the dump site Di­rec­tor of So­cial Ser­vices Man­disi Planga said a full re­sponse would have to wait un­til key staff re­turned from leave. How­ever, he said, “The burn­ing down of the sta­bles is re­gret­table.”

On 11 Septem­ber 2015, Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity was is­sued with a high court or­der that in­cluded the re­quire­ment to de­velop and im­ple­ment a proper man­age­ment plan at the land­fill site.

This fol­lowed a 9 March 2015 no­tice is­sued by The De­part­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs and Tourism for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to com­ply with Sec­tion 31L of the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Act (Nema).

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