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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Fires destroy homes

Fires ravaged parts of Numurkah, Wunghnu and Bunbartha on Sunday and Monday, destroying homes and farms.

TONI BRIENT February 12, 2014 9:40am

 

Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes as fire ravaged parts of Numurkah, Wunghnu and Bunbartha on Sunday and Monday, tearing through 9964ha and destroying four homes, a railway track and power lines.

Country Fire Authority incident controller Paul Blythman said yesterday that 150 firefighters from about 35 units were still on the ground, using infrared technology to identify remaining hot spots that were left behind from the Wunghnu Complex fire.

Mr Blythman said on Sunday, two separate blazes started, one at Reillys Pit Rd, Numurkah, and another at Wunghnu, about 2pm, as the mercury soared to 42.7°C and winds gusted up to 40km/h.

By 4.30pm, a relief centre was set up at Cobram Sports Stadium, attended by Moira Shire Council staff and Red Cross volunteers, with the first families arriving about 6pm.

Nathalia police Acting Sergeant David Liversigde said police door-knocked in Numurkah and Yarroweyah to try to evacuate residents under threat.

Moira Shire Council acting director community Bruce Connolly said of the 350 people who presented to Cobram Sports Stadium, about 50 slept inside on mattresses on the basketball court that night, and about 200 outside in cars.

Older residents and families with young children were moved to Cobram and Barooga motels.

But it wasn’t only people that showed up at the stadium — family dogs, cats and chickens also sought refuge.

‘‘We were out buying dog bowls at 1am,’’ Mr Connolly said.

Mr Blythman said late Sunday night the Reillys Pit Rd fire and the Wunghnu fire merged, creating more problems for firefighters trying desperately to control the blaze.

This story continued, and more fire coverage, in this week’s Courier.

 

 

A fire recovery centre has opened at 36 Melville St, Numurkah and will be open daily between 10am and 5pm. Moira Shire Council, Department of Human Services and Department of Environment and Primary Industries staff will be available to discuss personal hardship and wellbeing issues, animal welfare and any other recovery issues.

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