Agri SA has appealed to the private sector for donations to help farmers following a devastating fire that has destroyed an estimated 100 000ha of farmland in the Free State

The fire has reportedly been raging for the past four days.

News24 previously reported that the fire is believed to have started during a service delivery protest, with 17 people arrested on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.

The fire was driven further by strong winds that occurred largely over the western parts of the Free State.

Boshof, Dealesville, Hertzogville and Hoopstad are some of the areas affected by the devastation, Agri SA said in a statement.

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News24 previously reported that hundreds of head of game and livestock are estimated to have been lost in the fire.

The blaze also left farmer Tewie Nel in a critical condition after he sustained second and third-degree burns, according to Netwerk24.

On Wednesday evening, Agri SA said the fires were under control, but members of Free State Agriculture and the Free State Umbrella Fire Protection Association were monitoring the situation.

“Numerous volunteers and farmers joined forces to put out the fires. Some of the helpers were seriously injured,” Agri SA added.

In determining the extent of the damage, Agri SA said the most urgent need was to provide assistance to farmers to repair infrastructure, such as fences to secure livestock that had fled during the fires.

“Stockfeed, as well as the transportation thereof, is critical. Agri SA appeals to the private sector to make donations directly to Free State Agriculture.”

Agri SA said they donated R300 000 on Wednesday to assist the affected farmers, while Free State Agriculture previously said it would make R100 000 available to transport donations to farmers in need and would coordinate the distribution of donations.

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