Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Fire at Katunga had residents `on tenterhooks'

A fire that burned 40ha threatened several houses at Katunga on Friday afternoon.

RANDALL JOHNSTON February 6, 2013 4:13am

Katunga residents were on high alert on Friday last week.

A fire that burned 40ha threatened several houses at Katunga on Friday afternoon.

Country Fire Authority District 22 operations officer Rob Van Dorsser said the blaze was started at about 3pm when farm machinery sparked dry grass and spread quickly from there.

‘‘No properties were damaged, only land and fences,’’ he said.

‘‘It did threaten a couple of properties, but they were not damaged.’’

View more photos of the fire here:

Mr Van Dorsser said someone had been slashing the grass in a paddock — the blades on the back of the truck could have sparked after hitting some rocks or concrete material underneath.

‘‘Katunga is very dry at the moment,’’ he said.

‘‘All of the farmers have been pretty good, but it is very dry and fires can get started very easily.

‘‘We had a lot of wind (to contend with) that day too.’’

The blaze was controlled by 6pm, but it took the best efforts of 25 brigades and two helicopters to contain it from spreading further afield.

Mr Van Dorsser said with conditions as dry as they are, people need to remain vigilant.

‘‘People need to be wary, especially if they’re using machinery on the land,’’ he said.

‘‘It doesn’t take much for the long dry grass to spark up.’’

Katunga resident Sharon Cain said she was concerned for her neighbours and surprised at how quickly the fire sprung up.

She said it started on a Spences Rd property and spread east to the next property before jumping the channel to the north to a neighbouring property on Adams Rd.

A helicopter took water from the family’s dam to help put the fire out.

‘‘It definitely had us on tenterhooks for a couple of hours — the fire was only one paddock away from our dairy farm’’ she said.

‘‘At one point, a fire unit came onto our property so that Les could show them access to the channel from our farm, should they have needed it.

‘‘We had two lots of stock on our boundary and decided to move them so they would be safe, should the fire change direction at any time and travel into our property.

‘‘Should that have happened, then things could have got very serious as these channels are no longer allowed to be grazed and are just fuel for any fire.

‘‘The wind was very strong and we took precautionary measures by turning on the sprinklers in our section.’’

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