Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Lightning sparks two fires in Deniliquin

Firefighters say two fires sparked by lightning on Thursday night in Deniliquin could have been a lot worse.

ZOE MCMAUGH December 24, 2013 4:57am

Firefighters say it is lucky rain quickly followed the spectacular electric storm which lit up the skies on Thursday night.

Lightning sparked two fires about 8.45pm – one on the Lawson Syphon Rd and another on Wakool Rd.

NSW Fire and Rescue firefighters were called to the Lawson Syphon Rd fire at 8.45pm and worked quickly to contain the grass fire raging on private property.

NSW Fire and Rescue acting Deputy Captain Les Booth said the fire only managed to burn an area about 200m by 100m, but said it could have been a lot worse.

Thursday was a total fire ban day for the region, with the mercury soaring to a sweltering 42.3°C.

Temperatures were still hovering around the 35°C mark at the time of the fires, between 8pm and 9pm.

Acting Deputy Captain Booth said the heavy downpour just after 9pm was undoubtedly ‘‘a big help’’.

‘‘We called the Rural Fire Service in as well because the wind picked up and we thought the fire would get out of control,’’ he said.

‘‘The rain definitely helped – we were pretty lucky.

‘‘The fire was caused by lightning strike and burned on private property.

‘‘It was just a grass fire, but it did burn a bit of fencing.’’

Mr Booth said if the fire had not been controlled as quickly it could have threatened a neighboring home.

Amy Lane resident Susi Mulham, who lives only a short distance from where the fire burned, said the hot, red flames were an ‘‘impressive’’ sight.

She said when residents discovered a fire was burning, they rallied to assist in extinguishing it.

By the time they arrived, firefighters were already on scene.

‘‘I was sitting at home looking out the door and saw the lightning strike,’’ Mrs Mulham said,

‘‘A short time later my son Chris asked if I could smell smoke, and I could.

‘‘We went out on the road and we could see the blaze.

‘‘Residents were grabbing their water carts to see if we could help, but the fire brigade was already there.

‘‘I have never seen a lightning strike like that.

‘‘It was very blowy so I’m amazed at how quickly the fire was brought under control.’’

NSW Fire and Rescue responded with two tankers and 13 firefighters and were on scene to douse the fire from 8.45pm to 9.30pm.

Mid Murray Zone Rural Fire Service community safety officer Doug Adamson said three RFS volunteers were also dispatched to the fire, with one truck.

With the fire under control by the NSW brigade, Mr Adamson said the RFS crew responded to a call only moments later regarding a similar fire off the Wakool Rd.

‘‘There was a lightning strike to a hay bale,’’ Mr Adamson said.

‘‘Two Deniliquin trucks and a Brassi truck, and 12 volunteers, attended.

‘‘The fire luckily only burnt a few hay bales in the paddock, and not a great deal else.’’

Mr Adamson said firefighters returned to the Wakool Rd property on Friday to further douse the hay bales, to prevent them from re-igniting.

He also said the sudden downpour assisted in keeping the fire under control.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 3mm of rain fell on Thursday night.

Thursday was not the region’s only heat wave day last week.

Wednesday reached a top of 39°C, Friday was 42.7°C and Friday was 40.6°C.

Temperatures are expected to be much more mild this week, except for Boxing Day which is expected to reach a top of 38°C.

Today is only expected to reach 30°C and tomorrow, Christmas Day, is predicted to have a top of 34°C.

No rain is predicted for the rest of the week.

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