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District 14 significant incidents
District 14 brigades were called to a number of significant incidents over the past few months. Here are just a few of them.
Somerton – Sydney Road
The fire was initially reported at 2.36am on 20 November 2015. The cause is listed as undetermined. The premises was an illegal wood recycling centre with a very large stockpile of waste timber. A pre-plan was in place for the site as there was a high expectation that a fire may be illegally started. As expected, the fire rapidly took hold and a large portion of the timber stack was soon involved.
The firefight was a long and protracted one involving many agencies including MFB, ACT Fire and Rescue Service, SES, DELWP, Ambulance Victoria, VicPol, Hume Council, Melbourne Water and EPA. Appliances were drawn from as far afield as Canberra, Warrnambool, Shepparton and Churchill. Pumpers were drawn from all over the district and other nearby locations. Ladder platforms came from Dandenong and MFB, a Teleboom from MFB and Shepparton’s Aerial Pumper that was replaced by Warrnambool’s. Aircraft were also used on the fire and on one hot dry day Parks Victoria units were also used to patrol neighbouring grasslands to deal with anything that might escape.
In addition to the firefighting appliances Hallam Hazmat was there for the duration. A number of command units were used including Nillumbik FOV, CFA Mobile Communications Vehicle, MFB Control Unit, Ambulance Victoria Control Unit, and the SES MCV. BA support came from Corio, along with Ambulance Victoria and CFA Rehab units looking after health monitoring. A number of earthmoving machines were also used. Up to four dozers (from D10 to D7’s), three excavators and a grader were used. SES also ran the staging area and catering came initially from the Salvation Army, followed by Crawford’s operating out a DELWP field kitchen. Toilets and hygiene stations were also provided by DELWP.
Fighting the fire went through a number of strategies culminating in one that reduced the amount of water required. At times up to 50 megalitres of water per day was being used to fight the fire. The runoff from this was finding its way into the Merri Creek. To contain this water an earth bund wall was built around the site. This created a “swimming pool” through which the burning material was pushed by the earth moving equipment. Meanwhile access to the site had become so poor at times that roads had to be constructed from nearly 1,200 tonnes of crushed rock brought to the site. Compressed Air Foam Systems and Class A foam were later employed to reduce the water requirement. As the fire was brought under control, further effort was required to dispose of the waste water before it contributed to the environmental impact.
Eventually the fire was declared under control on 26/11/15 and a stop was put on the incident on 2/12/15. At times there were up to 140 personnel on scene, 28 appliances/machines were used to fight the fire, eight or more control vehicles were on site in support roles, with more being used for crew changeovers and transport duties. This was a challenging incident, involving many agencies. All those associated with it are commended for their work.
A more detailed analysis of the lessons learned from the incident can be found in the Autumn 2016 edition of Brigade Magazine here.
Epping – Vearings Road
A deliberately-lit fire was started in grass and scrub near the corner of Vearings Rd and Harvest Home Rd on 19/12/15 at 9.55am. The call for “make tankers 10” was made within 10 minutes and aircraft were despatched early. In all over 50 appliances from CFA, MFB and DELWP were used in fighting the fire. Further vehicles were used for command and control. Control of the fire was passed to the Kangaroo Ground ICC at 10.35am.
The fire spread rapidly under the influence of a northerly wind and crews had to work hard to hold the fire and prevent it from crossing the major roads. Eventually, 163 hectares in an area bounded by Harvest Home Rd, the Hume Fwy, Cooper St and Vearings Rd was burnt.
The incident was declared under control at 1.46pm and the incident stop was called at 5.54pm. Good work by the crews prevented significant losses, but some shedding was lost. A man has been charged with lighting the fire. He has been released on bail pending the hearing.
Sunbury – Williams Rise
A number of people had their Christmas Lunches interrupted when a call went out for a grass fire at the back of properties in Williams Rise Sunbury. The fire was spreading in a south easterly direction towards a number of houses in Settlers Way and Enterprise Drive.
The initial call came in at 12.23pm. The call for “make tankers 10” was made within 10 minutes. The initial direct attack failed to halt the fire so trucks were deployed for asset protection and aircraft were used to attack the fire front. Control was passed to Gisborne ICC about 2.10pm. Around twenty trucks were eventually deployed to the fire, plus five strike teams from districts 2, 12 and 14.
The fire was declared under control at 7 minutes past midnight on the 26th, but a stop was not declared until the afternoon of the 4th of January due to recurring flare ups of difficult trees in the burnt area. In all 58Ha of grassland south of Williams Rise and west of Racecourse Rd were burnt.