Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Crews battle several fires across the district

District CFA units were on high alert last week and early this week with several fires in the region.

BRONWYN BEYERS December 12, 2012 4:11am

Strong air support was brought in to assist CFA crews on the ground in Toolleen last week.

District CFA units were on high alert last week with several grassfires in the region, including a large fire at Toolleen on Wednesday which burnt-out 40 hectares.

Heathcote Fire Brigade captain Shane Nixon said the fire broke out at a property on the Northern Hwy about 9km north of the Toolleen Hotel about 4pm.

‘‘There were 18 units out there including the forward command vehicle, slip on and quick fill truck from Heathcote, which can be filled off a dam,’’ Mr Nixon said.

m‘‘There was also a grader and the DSE had a multi-function dozer for along the creek bed, which needed a hell of a lot of work because the fuel load was so heavy.’’

Neighbours pitched in to fight the fire, which threatened a house on the property, destroyed a young olive grove and damaged a garage, including a four-wheel drive parked inside it.

Heathcote Fire Brigade officer Carl Watkins said the fire was located directly opposite the site of a major grassfire in Toolleen last year.

‘‘Everyone’s nervous out there at the moment and we were conscious of the location,’’ he said.

CFA brigades also attended a small grassfire in Chapman’s Lane, Heathcote on Saturday and grassfires fanned by strong winds at Toolleen and Knowsley on Sunday.

Mr Watkins said the Heathcote fire broke out about 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon and burnt close to a hectare.

‘‘We had chopper support from Bendigo and they actually got there before the other units arrived, so it was a great response,’’ Mr Watkins said.

The fire threatened a home on the property, which Mr Watkins said was unoccupied.He said the cause of the fire was unknown.

A large grassfire spanning 50ha also broke out on Saturday in the Puckapunyal military precinct and was still burning out of control in a contained area on Monday, fanned by strong winds and dry conditions.

A large bushfire also broke out on Saturday in a blue gum forest plantation at Whiteheads Creek near Seymour.

The fire burned out more than 1800ha and on Monday was still burning out of control, though contained.

‘‘That was a dirty fire and a long night,’’ Mr Watkins said.

‘‘It’s tough terrain in there and you can’t drive the trucks up and down the hills because they’re too steep so you have to fight the fire from the ridges, which we could drive along.

‘‘There’s not a lot they can do other than try to contain the fire until it burns itself out.’’

The fire was large enough that it could be seen at night from Heathcote and, though brought under control by Sunday evening, on Monday the fire flared back up again and was still burning out of control in a contained area.

On Monday afternoon, Heathcote Fire Brigade was called to a small grassfire at Eppalock with Mosquito Creek CFA, which was quickly brought under control.

Mr Watkins commended the DSE on its quick response to district fires and the support given to CFA crews.

‘‘They’re a real bonus when they’re around,’’ Mr Watkins said.

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