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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Fire threatens Jerilderie

Firefighters and police could evacuate Jerilderie, with the town threatened by a fire that has broken containment lines.

January 8, 2013 4:09pm

Firefighters and police could evacuate Jerliderie by tomorrow morning if a fire threatening the town continues to rage.

A fire that was started from a lightning strike on Monday night in Conargo Shire broke containment lines yesterday and was raging toward the town.

Mid-Murray Zone Rural Fire Service Superintendent Lindsay Lashbrook said if the fire was contained before it ‘‘jumps’’ the Yanco Creek, Jerilderie would not come under threat.

But he admitted there was a strong possibility the fire would breach the creek.

When he spoke to the Southern Riverina News today, the fire was blazing through the property ‘Wononga’, which is 15km north-west of Jerilderie.

At that time, Jerilderie hospital had been asked to prepare for an evacuation.

‘‘The fire was started by lightning and was extinguished [on Monday night] with only mopping up left to do,’’ Supt Lashbrook said.

‘‘But it reignited and then broke containment lines at 9am (Tuesday).

‘‘It has already burned about 2000 hectares and the possibility of it breaking the Yanco Creek is real.

‘‘Yanco is not a bad creek, but it only takes one spark and it’s away.’’

Emergency crews were working overtime in the Conargo and Jerilderie shires, and at the emergency centre based in Deniliquin, to monitor and contain the fire today.

‘‘Shire staff have been using graders to deepen containment lines, which are being created west and north of Jerilderie,’’ Supt Lashbrook said.

‘‘There are emergency crews on stand-by, including heavy tankers, police and NSW Fire and Rescue.

‘‘We have plenty of resources on the ground.’’

Supt Lashbrook said there was still no immediate threat to Jerilderie when the Southern Riverina News went to print, but admitted there was a ‘‘remote possibility’’ evacuations may begin by this morning.

‘‘If the fire does break the creek, we will have to reassess our warning,’’ Supt Lashbrook said yesterday.

The fire spread on what authorities were expecting to be the worst day for high fire danger, and followed a sweltering heat wave in the region.

Temperatures came close to breaking records on Saturday, as the mercury topped out at 45.1°C at the Bureau of Meteorology’s Tocumwal Airport weather station.

Saturday was the hottest day so far in the heat wave that has sizzled most of south-east Australia.

While the official Tocumwal temperature was 45.1°C, there has been an unofficial report of 47°C on a farm near Finley.

Saturday was only the fourth time Tocumwal has experienced such high temperatures since recording began in 1971.

The highest temperature ever experienced was only slightly higher, with 45.8°C in 1990.

Today was expected to be 38°C, and heat relief is predicted tomorrow with a high of just 25°C. That is barely higher than Saturday’s minimum of 24.5°C.

The weather should warm back up later in the week, with 33°C predicted for Thursday, 39°C on Friday, 37°C Saturday, 33°C Sunday, 30°C Monday, 33°C Tuesday, 32°C next Wednesday and 30°C next Thursday.

Fire updates will be published when available on southernriverinanews.com.au

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