Truck became stuck in table drain as fire roared over head
THE fire of December 22, 1943 began near the Hume Highway at Bowser.
The smoke was seen by a group of men working nearby and they almost managed to get it under control with leather beaters, before it took off towards Tarrawingee.
Volunteers were called out from Wangaratta and they arrived on the fire unit - a Ford V-8 with a powered pump, made by progressive local farmer WB Richardson, among only a handful of units in service across the state at the time.
The volunteers found the fire had greatly increased in intensity and had crossed the road at Reidsdale, where a howling, swirling wind was lifting sheaves of hay into the air - exploding them like roman candles and showering the Wangaratta unit with sparks and smoke.
A desperate attempt was made to turn the truck around to get the men to safety but it became stuck in a table drain and was held fast while the fire roared over it.
In addition to the 10 people who died as a result of the fire, a further eight suffered serious injuries and scores of other casualties presented at Wangaratta hospital for treatment, with the town taking on the appearance of a battle zone.