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Crews still on scene at Goroke
A fire that burnt through scrub from the Karnak brigade area to the Gymbowen brigade area on Tuesday 8 January had an unusual cause.
District 17 Operations Manager Dale Russell was rostered duty officer that day. “There was a malfunction in the gearbox of a windmill,” he says, “and the oil inside ignited. Metal and boiling oil dropped on the ground and the fan was hitting its stand and sending out sparks.
“Control of the incident was passed to DSE in Horsham pretty quickly with the fire burning in the Kalingur State Forest; a fairly typical scrubby area. It was travelling under a fairly stiff southwest wind and parts of it did come out into private property.
“We had 18 tankers on scene and DSE turned out in force from their bases at Edenhope and Horsham. There were four fixed wing bombers overhead – two from Stawell and two from Casterton.”
The fire reached 900 hectares before being contained on Wednesday once DSE bulldozers had built mineral earth breaks around the entire edge.
CFA crews remain on scene today alongside DSE colleagues, blacking out on a 39 degree day.
“The winds are gusting to 30 kilometres an hour and above,” says Fred Lowe on scene, Goroke’s 1st deputy group officer. “We have about six trucks here and there are DSE units, a shire water tank and two graders.
“We’re on alert but it’s been reasonably quiet and we hope that’s the way it’s going to stay.
“We’ve been very lucky in actual fact. DSE had a breakaway yesterday and that got us on our mettle. They called in the two bombers from Stawell again.
“This fire has been the first time I’ve had the privilege of working with the bombers and they’ve helped a huge amount. They cut down the speed and the spread. At one point we had spotting up to two kilometres ahead and they got on to it.
“DSE have been great to work with on this fire – they’ve helped us no end. On top of that we had about 30 private units at the height of the fire so we tried to spread all the vehicles out.
“It was quite a night – that Tuesday night. There were a lot of bogged tankers in the dark in the deep sand. DSE had three dozers on scene and they pulled them out along with help from some tractors.
“This has certainly been our biggest fire of the season so far but we’re not looking to break any records!”
The fire is classified as the Goroke – R Mitchell Road fire 17 kilometres south east of Goroke.