Fierce wild fires have destroyed parts of the Viphya plantation in the northern Malawi district of Mzimba.
Plantation manager Eric Zangazanga said on Wednesday the fires, which have been ravaging the 53-hectares of tree plantation for over two weeks now, outstretched the Forestry Departmentâ€™s efforts to put it out.
â€œWhen we put out this fire, another one starts some 200 metres away. When we put out that one, another one starts some 100 metres away. Our forest rangers have been running from this fire to that fire; we have been going on like this for the past two weeks,â€ Zangazanga said.
He said his department is yet to establish the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage.
He said the fire has affected much of the area where people were felling trees and sawing timber, burning timber and machines used to saw the planks.
â€œWhat is worrying us is that the fire is also spreading into the areas where we have just replanted trees. This will affect our efforts to [afforestate] the plantation,â€ he said.
Raiply Malawi Limited chief executive officer Thomas Oommen said in an interview that cases of fire were common in the dry season due to poachers and alcoholism.
â€œForest rangers have confiscated four muzzle loaders and one hunting dog which were being used by poachers,â€ Oommen said.
However, Wilfred Tsaka of Sterling Timbers attributed the cause of the fire to saboteurs and sorghum farmers in gardens bordering the plantation.