Fiery start to season
THE first extreme fire day for the season proved great concern for South Gippslanders when five grass fires ignited across the region last Friday.
CFA resources were worn thin, with fires burning in Outtrim, Poowong East, Wattlebank, Wonthaggi and Fairbank.
Burning two hectares of land in Drysdale Road in Outtrim, the biggest fire of the day began when a tractor sparked on a rural property.
Firefighters were called to the property just after 11am and remained until 2am on Saturday, with 13 tankers required to control the blaze.
Crews from Korumburra, Wonthaggi, Pound Creek, Kongwak, Inverloch, Glen Alvie, Koonwarra, Leongatha South, Tarwin Lower, Dalyston, Meeniyan and Leongatha attended, with four trucks returning at 8am on Saturday as the fire had not yet been fully extinguished.
Operations officer for District 9, David Chugg, said the fire had spread into a roadside area, but volunteers did a “fantastic” job to contain it, especially considering the weather conditions.
“It was great work from 40 firefighters in extreme heat,” he said.
“We also received great support from the South Gippsland Shire with a water tanker and grader, and we thank them for such a great effort and fast response.”
Mr Chugg said the fire had been extinguished, but would be monitored over the next few days with the temperature expected to remain in the 30s, and reminded community members to take extra caution themselves.
“We have fire restrictions at the moment so we really want to ensure people can’t light a fire unless they have a permit,” he said.
“People also need to have a bushfire survival plan in place, especially in the instance they see smoke. They can access information from ABC radio, the CFA website and monitor the conditions over the next three or four days.”
Mr Chugg said with the wind expected to pick up later in the week combined with the dry conditions and large fuel supply, the CFA was highly prepared and in response mode for the worst case scenario in South Gippsland.
Korumburra brigade captain Jodi Butler said they were unable to attend both the Poowong East and Fairbank fires, as their tanker was being used at Outtrim.
“It’s just a reminder to people that things like that do happen and they can’t always expect to have a fire truck at their door, especially if it’s committed to other incidents during days of extreme fire weather,” she said.
The Outtrim fire was also a reminder to farmers to fit appropriate firefighting equipment to their tractors.
When asked if five fires in one day was concerning, Wonthaggi brigade Captain Kim O’Connor replied “absolutely”.
“Everything is so dry and the fire is just readily burning,” he said.
“There’s so much fuel about and fire takes a lot of stopping.”
Mr O’Connor said all brigades were now expecting repeats of last Friday in the coming weeks.
“When you get predictions of weather conditions we were having that day, you expect you’re going to be busy,” he said.
“We were prepared for it and we thought it would happen; history tells us it does happen when you get those kinds of conditions.”
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