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Firefighter bring Tocumwal and Jerilderie fires under control

Last week’s heatwave followed by storm activity sparked a number of fires in the region.

January 22, 2014 4:16am

Extensive damage to the Lower River Rd after a fire which started on Thursday.


The hot winds and hot temperatures soared to a peak of 44.1°C on Thursday, helping to fuel a fire west of Tocumwal.

Lightning on Saturday night then sparked a fire near Moonbria Rd at Jerilderie.

Both fires were in areas devastated by fires in previous summers.

Fire authorities were called to the Lower River Rd, west of Tocumwal, about 3.40pm Thursday.

Fire broke out a mere 100m from where a fire that continually broke containment lines and jumped the river started in 1990.

Corowa-Berrigan Rural Fire Service group captain Greyd’n Davis said 35 firefighters - from Tocumwal, Barooga, Berrigan and Finley – attended with eight RFS appliances.

A Country Fire Authority Strike Team also attended with five trucks and about 30 members.

Capt Davis said the fire had burnt about 3ha of heavy bushland.

‘‘We received the alert about 3pm and we had to hit it hard.

‘‘The fire started on the northern side of the road and we were fortunate to have a northerly wind.

‘‘The fire was contained by dark, about 8.30pm.’’

Capt Davis said without the northerly wind and concentrated efforts by firefighters, the fire could have been as devastating as the 1990 fire.

‘‘But we were able to peg the fire and keep it contained,’’ he said.

Firefighters were at the scene ‘‘mopping up’’ until midday Friday.

He said the fire conditions were extremely challenging for firefighters, who had to operate through heavy burning timber.

‘‘We had a few heat exhausted firefighters – we had nine go down,’’ Capt Davis said.

‘‘It was hard. There was difficulty in the terrain and a lot of manual work.

‘‘The temperature reached 44°C and it would have been 65°C where the brigades were working.

‘‘It was a mighty effort.’’

Finley Ambulance station officer David Burton said the nine firefighters were taken to Tocumwal Hospital with ‘‘smoke inhalation, dehydration and heat stroke’’.

On Saturday, regional firefighters were again called to the front line when lightning sparked a fire off Moonbria Rd, on the property ‘Euroka’.

Mid Murray Zone RFS Superintendent Lindsay Lashbrook said it was ‘‘very close’’ to areas burned out last summer in what is now referred to as the Moonbria Rd fire, which burned across Conargo and Jerilderie Shires.

‘‘It was about 8.30pm when it kicked off and we had it contained by midnight,’’ Supt Lashbrook said of Saturday’s fire.

‘‘We were very fortunate because there was no wind.

‘‘There was a lot of lightning around the region, and we also has fires at Pretty Pine.’’

Attending the Euroka fire, which burned 120ha, were Conargo RFS, Goolgumbla, Argoon, Bolton and Deniliquin firefighters.

Supt Lashbrook said 10 RFS tankers were utilised, as well as some private tankers.

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