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Jung header fire flares
It was 43 degrees in Horsham and District 17 brigades were getting towards the end of a busy day of header fires when a Jung grass and scrub was called in just before 8pm, November 29.
Jung Captain Chris Pallot was watering the plants when the pager message came through.
“Jung [brigade] hadn’t gone out so far that day,” he says, “but Minyip, Rupanyup and Murtoa had been out four times previous to this call-out.”
The fire was about 25 kilometres from home. Chris jumped in his ute and went direct to the fire to establish the control point as incident controller.
Date: 29 November
Brigades: Jung, Murtoa, Kellalac, Minyip, Rich Avon, Antwerp, Coromby, Sheep Hills, North Wimmera, Pimpinio, Dimboola, Dooen, Rupanyup, Warracknabeal, Areegra, Bangerang, Boolite, Cannum, Vectis, Lubeck, Gerang, Green Lake, Horsham
“On the way there I heard the call go out for ‘Make tankers 15’,” he continues. “There was quite a strong south westerly wind across flat plains of cropping land. This was a header fire that started in lentils and ended up going into wheat.
“When I arrived I’d say the scene was organised chaos, but it became easier to manage when I sectorised the fire.
“I put the Murtoa FCV on the eastern sector which was the homestead side. One appliance was on asset protection but the wind was pushing the fire away from the homestead. All trucks approaching from the east reported to the FCV. They were tasked with containing and suppressing the fire to prevent it jumping the limestone road which was a natural firebreak. It did jump that road but they pulled it up quick.
“My Dad Mal Pallot is the third deputy group officer and I made him the western sector commander. On that side the fire was about one kilometre from the Henty Highway.
“Water wasn’t a problem with a hydrant about two kilometres away, but the turnaround time for a tanker was about 10 minutes. It’s just a timing issue when they all run out at the same time.
“It took about two hours to contain the fire which went very quickly.”
DSE self-deployed with a dozer, four slips on and a tanker. Although they were not used, Chris very much appreciated their attendance.
The fire burnt about 180 hectares with a DSE fire spotter overhead taking the aerial photo. The photo shows one homestead threatened but another is also close by obscured by the smoke. They are the houses of Jung Third Lieutenant Brian Petrass and his 90-year-old father John.
“Brian and John were the first on scene,” says Chris, “attending in their private unit. We also had one of the Jung brigade members in his tractor with a set of disks behind it putting in fire breaks to try and prevent the fire from spreading. “