Timmering resident Tristan Hornbuckle's quick thinking and preparedness went a long way to stop a large grassfire from reaching his house and getting bigger.By Elaine Cooney
Timmering resident Tristan Hornbuckle’s swift actions during the Timmering grassfire on January 6 saved his farm and the possibility of the fire becoming much larger.
Mr Hornbuckle was enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon when he realised the power to his laptop had cut out.
He went outside to check the fuse box and could smell smoke.
Being a firefighter, he scanned the horizon for smoke and called 000 as soon as he detected it.
‘‘I’m in the CFA, but I was worried because I was the only one here
Tongala and Timmering fire brigades were on-site within 10 minutes, he said.
The brigades attacked the fire from all angles, cut down fences to access the area and felled trees to control the speed.
The fire was travelling fast and he knew the southerly wind would draw it in the direction of his home.
He donned fire gear and began precautions to make the house safe.
Because the electricity was off due to trees falling on powerlines, Mr Hornbuckle said he had to rely on baths of water outside his property.
He filled buckets and used wet mats to dampen the fire as it approached.
Mr Hornbuckle said he was lucky he maintained his garden and kept the grass short and did not have rubbish lying around.
‘‘I maintain my lawns because they can be a fire risk,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a pretty big thing when you live in the country.’’
It was the first fire he encountered near his home in the 11 years he had lived there.
Mr Hornbuckle showed Campaspe News channel banks outside his property severely overgrown with grasses.
He said the neighbouring covenant was a ‘‘disaster waiting to happen’’ due to the high dry grass and was frustrated it could not be cut back.
‘‘There was so much fuel, it (the fire) had plenty to kickstart it,’’ he said.
He pointed out how the fire came towards his house right through the overgrown channel.
The channel also acted as a firebreak as the fire did not jump over it onto his property.
Several cows fled the fire but the paddock was large enough for them to find safety.
The next day they had to be moved to a nearby dam because the electricity was out for 18 hours so water could not be pumped to their troughs.
The fire burned a 2km strip right around Mr Hornbuckle’s property and was 200m in width.
He lost some fencing but said his neighbours lost a lot more in the fire.
Mr Hornbuckle said he joined the fire brigade because he would appreciate help defending his home if the situation arose.
‘‘I am very grateful to them, they did a great job,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m lucky, really, I came out to check on the power.
‘‘If I didn’t, the fire would have been at my property and it may have been a different story.’’
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