News & Media

Helicopter critical at Riddells Creek grass fire

  • Helitack 346 dropping water on the fire
  • Riddells Creek Tanker 2, blacking out the fire
  • Firefighters blacking out the fire
  • 10 hectares of grass burnt
  • Firefighters blacking out the fire

By: Dean Anderson

Category: Incidents - Bushfire

  7.59 AM 18 January, 2017

Location: District 2 News, District 14 News

Views: 4279

Fourteen fire trucks and a firefighting helicopter were needed to bring a 10-hectare grassfire under control at a rural property at McDonalds Lane near Riddells Creek on Monday evening.

CFA crews were called to the fire at 5.40pm after a tractor sparked a fire while slashing grass at the property.

Riddells Creek, Gisborne and Sunbury fire brigades were initially responded to the fire, but additional assistance was soon requested from nearby fire brigades including Macedon, Mount Macedon, Clarkefield, Bolinda-Monegeeta, Bullengarook, Romsey, Wildwood and Hesket-Kerrie.

At the time CFA crews were being dispatched to the fire, a firefighting helicopter from Mangalore was automatically responded to the fire under the pre-determined dispatch” (PDD) program. Under PDD and when certain triggers are met, firefighting aircraft are responded to grassfires at the same time that fire trucks are.

The helicopter (named Helitack 346) arrived only 10 minutes after fire trucks had first arrived and was able to quickly begin water bombing the head of the fire.

“The prompt dispatch of the helicopter was critical in preventing the spread of the fire” said Riddells Creek Fire Brigade Captain Tom Morley.

“As the fire spread to a nearby gully, it became difficult for firefighters to attack the fire and this is where the helicopter was instrumental” said Tom. The helicopter was also supported by three ultra-light tankers which were able to access the gully with greater ease.

“These smaller four-wheel drive fire trucks also played a critical role in stopping the spread of the fire.”

It took firefighters one hour to control the fire and crews remained at the scene extinguishing hot spots for a further two hours.

Tom said last year’s higher than average rainfall experienced during winter and spring has promoted significant grass growth.

“Monday's fire is an example of what the state’s fire agencies have been forecasting for a number of months now. Grass fires will remain a high risk to many Victorian communities this summer as grass continues to dry out” said Tom.

Last Updated: 23 March 2017