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Fire in ‘goat’ country
A little after 2pm on a warm Saturday afternoon (23rd February), Bulla and Wildwood Fire Brigades were paged to a reported grass fire spreading in St. Johns Road in Oaklands Junction.
Before the first appliance turned out, a request from Bulla Lieutenant was to Make Tankers 5 due to the amount of smoke showing from the vicinity, and knowing the area, knew the risks of not pouncing on the fire quickly.
With appliances arriving onscene, a quick size-up found the fire taking off through very rocky and steep terrain, directly behind a number of houses, heading north into dense grassland. It was also spreading downhill, albeit slowly, into a heavily treed and scrubby area, towards a creek at the bottom of the gully. With the safety of firefighters paramount in his mind, Captain Pelly from Bulla Fire Brigade requested additional tankers, as well as air support.
With a Community Warning broadcast to surrounding townships, a request was made for 5 additional slip-on’s due to the terrain, and the smaller areas they could get into.
With a water bomber making a number of drops to halt the spread of the fire, crews made the very careful trek down into the gully to extinguish the last remaining pockets of fire and begin blacking-out.
Due to the weather, terrain, and crews tiring after a long firefight, Strike Team 1403 was responded to provide additional crews to help black out.
Appliances onscene were;
Bulla – Slip-on, Tanker 1, Tanker 2.
Craigieburn – Tanker 2, Car 9.
Clarkefield – Tanker 1, Tanker 2.
Diggers Rest – Tanker 1.
Epping – Tanker 1.
Ferntree Gully – Slip-on.
Greenvale – Tanker 1, Car
Kalkalo – Tanker 1.
Mt. Evelyn – Ultralight.
Riddells Creek – Tanker 1.
Sunbury – Tanker 1, Tanker 2, Ute.
Toolern Vale – Slip-on.
Wallan – Big Fill, Ultralight.
Warrandyte – Slip-on.
Wildwood – Tanker 1.
Wollert – Tanker 1.
Strike Team 1403 – Diamond Creek Car, Whittlesea Tanker 1, South Morang Tanker 1, Yarrambat Tanker 1, Mernda Tanker 2.
CFA – RDO14 (Stuart Curnow), Operations Officer Trevor Roberts, Group Officer Gerry Hauke.
MFB – Commander O’Connor, Pumper-Tanker 48, Pumper-Tanker 52, Water Tanker 5.
Air Support - Helitak 341, Firebird 308.
A final ‘Stop’ was placed on the call just before 6pm, with the last appliance returning after 7pm.
The cause of the fire was found to be accidental with a farmer doing some digging in his rear yard when he struck a rock with machinery, sparking the 4Ha blaze.
The Incident Controller of this fire was Captain Larry Pelly from Bulla Fire Brigade.
Pictures by Blair Dellemijn – CFA Photographer.