York shares plunge as fire ravages forests

Shares in York Timber Organisation plunged more than 37percent yesterday in the wake of news that severe fires since the weekend had caused substantial damage to forestry plantations in Mpumalanga, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal.

Shares in York Timber Organisation plunged more than 37percent yesterday in the wake of news that severe fires since the weekend had caused substantial damage to forestry plantations in Mpumalanga, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal.

York chief executive officer Lance Cooper confirmed that one of the company's plantations and sawmills had been affected and that these fires would compound the long-term softwood lumber shortage already facing South Africa.

He added that several of the fires had been brought under control in recent hours.

Cooper said that fire damage had been suffered by an estimated 6000 hectares of York's 90000 hectares. A portion of York's Driekop sawmill near Graskop was also damaged by the fire.

"The wet mill started burning at about 5am on Saturday morning. However, fire teams were able to extinguish the flames before they reached the dry mill and the auxiliary mill. Limited production will be restored to the mill this week and extra shifts at the group's other seven mills are being planned to bolster production volumes and avoid disruption of supplies. The mill is insured for loss of profits and assets," said Cooper. - I-Net Bridge

X