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Quick action stops fire spread

The driver of a hay truck that caught fire saved a nearby farm from potentially thousands of dollars of damage.

GEOFF ADAMS January 7, 2014 9:05am

The tray truck, carrying 20 rolls of pasture hay, burst into flames on a rural road near Undera last week.

The driver, who didn’t want to be named, was passing a stubble paddock that contained field bins with about 50tonne of wheat when he noticed the load on fire in his rear vision mirror.

He continued for several hundred more metres trying to find a safer place to stop and eventually came to rest at an intersection.

The truck and its load were completely destroyed by the fire shortly after the driver jumped from the cabin.

Property owner and farmer Ian Christoe said if the truck had stopped earlier, the fire, fanned by a southerly breeze, would have swept through his wheat stubble, possibly destroying the field bins and setting fire to a tractor that was also in the paddock.

The Gillieston farmer — who was driving his truck to deliver the hay — said he noticed hay on fire while driving west along Coomboona Rd and looking into the rear vision mirror after another truck passed him.

He said he saw the stubble paddock and realised the danger as he was driving.

‘‘I knew that when a load catches fire like that, you have some time before it reaches the cabin,’’ he said.

‘‘I continued for several hundred metres to get to a more open paddock. But I couldn’t have gone any further.

‘‘I was only about 10m away from the truck when the first tyre exploded.’’

Mr Christoe said he was thankful the driver didn’t pull up immediately he noticed the fire, otherwise his field bins and tractor could have been caught up in the fire.

‘‘He pulled up where he was clear of the long grass,’’ Mr Christoe said.

Although the fire spread to a few hectares of maize stubble and burnt some fencing near the intersection with Neal Rd, Mr Christoe said it was still a better outcome than it could have been.

‘‘If it had got into the wheat stubble up the road it would have been a big fire that might have spread much further.’’

Mr Christoe was working on his farm at the time and didn’t know there was a fire until he saw the smoke and emergency vehicles.

The driver had called 000.

The 1981 Ford truck was completely burnt out, but it was insured.

Six CFA units from Mooroopna, Undera, Merrigum and Tatura attended the blaze just before 1.30pm on Monday, December 30.

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