Shed, home burn in fire
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A shearing shed, an unoccupied farm house and more than 2500 hectares of grass farmland were consumed in an out of control fire that burned at Corowa Rd, Oaklands last Tuesday morning.
Fanned by strong northerly winds, RFS Corowa Berrigan Group Captain and strike team leader on the day, Greyd’n Davis, said the fire roared over 15 kilometres at about eight kilometres per hour.
It began as a small hayshed fire at 9am, but quickly spread to burn 10 hectares initially.
Twelve Rural Fire Service units from the Corowa Berrigan zone were attended the scene.
Crews did some preventative work around the haystack that morning, but the wind picked up and it only took a couple of embers to see the fire spread even further.
Capt Davis said the large air tanker, known as ‘Southern Belle’, was activated to help put out the ‘‘full on’’ fire.
‘‘A 50 year-old shearing shed went up in flames and the fire went within a metre of a nearby house,’’ he said.
‘‘Another house also went up in flames and crews managed to save another shearing shed that caught alight, but some machinery was lost.’’
Capt Davis said flames travelled around the northern end of Oaklands, sparing the Oaklands Central School, where staff and students were evacuated.
‘‘It was very full on at that point,’’ Capt Davis said.
The fire then moved in a south-east direction towards Federation Way, north of Corowa Rd.
‘‘The intention was to prevent the fire crossing Federation Way which crews were successful at doing near the Oaklands-Rand Rd,’’ Capt Davis said.
Southern Border RFS community safety officer Patrick Westwood said the hardworking crews pulled up the fire midafternoon with the help of around 150 volunteers and 60 trucks, plus 40,000 litres of water dropped from the Southern Belle.
Mr Westwood said the blaze was a big ‘‘wake up call’’ as to how fast fire can travel.
‘‘This summer we’re likely to see more dangerous to severe fire danger days as we progress to March so people need to plan ahead if fire impacts their property,’’ Mr Westwood said.
‘‘It was very disappointing also to see people deciding to drive up to the fire while crews were working.
‘‘Fires are not a place for people to go and visit and having them there is an unacceptable danger to themselves and our crews.’’
Alysha Knight and Chelsea Dempster topped the ATAR scores at Finley High.