Monday morning things went badly wrong at Zuiderhof cemetery in Hilversum. During the burning of weeds between gravel paths, a large fire started. Staff and local residents quickly took action and managed to prevent worse.

    For major maintenance work, among other things, weeds had to be burned away between the gravel paths of the cemetery. The fire started when one of the subcontractor’s employees was burning too close to the turf. The dry sod quickly caught fire because of the drought and the hot weather, after which the fire could easily spread around itself.

    Quick response

    Fortunately, the cemetery staff and a neighbor managed to prevent worse. The employees quickly called 112 and started extinguishing the fire themselves. A local resident who happened to be working in the area with a water tank behind his tractor was informed by his daughter, after which he quickly drove towards the fire to help extinguish it.

    Before the fire service got there, the fire had already been brought under control and the firefighters only had to extinguish it.

    Injury

    The damage is not minor. Ten trees were damaged, four of which had to be removed because they were completely blackened. “It is very bad, because they were beautiful trees, but it could have ended much worse,” says Anita van Loon, director of Uitvaartstichting Hilversum.

    Graves themselves were not damaged, but a number of tombstones suffered minor soot damage. These just need to be cleaned. A number of sods have also burned down and need to be re-laid.

    Error in judgment

    According to Van Loon, this is an error of judgment. “The contractor acknowledges responsibility. According to him, it was a misjudgment to let his staff do this work in this heat.” According to Van Loon, the working relationship is not over and the contractor will assume all damage.

    Fortunately, the ceremonies planned on Monday and tomorrow can continue. “People are not disturbed and relatives cannot see the damage from the auditorium.” The damage will be repaired on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

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