Fire damage to York Timber Organisation Ltd’s (Yorkcor) plantations in Mpumalanga, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal is expected to cost the company more than R100m.

Fires during the last weekend of July caused damage to 6,000ha of forest, less than 7% of Yorkcor’s total plantations, but destroyed all trees aged less than seven years old and a quarter of those aged over eight, Yorkcor chief executive officer Lance Cooper said.

Mr Cooper said that the fires were under control and that the South African firm was proceeding with a clean-up operation, with its sawmills only processing salvaged timber for the meantime.

“An amount of R78m is the estimated write-off as a result of timber that cannot be salvaged, while a further R25m will be spent on the timber salvage operation,” said Mr Cooper.

“Yorkcor has immediately ceased harvesting unburnt timber in any of its plantations and will process only burnt timber.”

The Driekop sawmill was also damaged by the fires, with Mr Cooper noting that it would be at least six months before it was repaired and fully operational.