News & Media

Mulch fire near Moriac

By: CFA News

Category: Incidents - Bushfire

  1.00 PM 29 January, 2018

Location: District 7 News

Views: 974

On Friday afternoon, 19 January, Modewarre Fire Brigade responded to a call-out to a grass and scrub fire off Cape Otway Road, 3km north-west of Moriac township.

By Bill Spencer, Modewarre Brigade

On Friday afternoon, 19 January, Modewarre Fire Brigade responded to a call-out to a grass and scrub fire off Cape Otway Road, 3km north-west of Moriac township.

The property is in a closely settled rural locality and has a substantial modern residence, large workshops and storage sheds together with reclaimed materials processing facilities and storage areas. The temperature was around 30 degrees, the wind gentle to moderate from the south-east, and it was a Total Fire Ban Day.

First tankers on scene found mulch and unprocessed material piles at the rear of the property alight and spreading to a significant mulch pile approximately 10,000m3 in size. 

The magnitude of the fire and risk potential was immediately apparent. Other brigades arrived on scene together with air support soon after. At the height of the fire there were around 15 brigade trucks and CFA support vehicles including the group bulk tanker, together with Firebird and a helitak which stayed on scene for four hours delivering water onto the main mulch pile every three to four minutes.

Brigade tankers attended to several spot fires while fire breaks were being made for proposed controlled burns to assist in fire containment within the subject and the adjacent properties.

It was determined it was largely the top 200-300mm of the main pile burning. The concern was the fire was likely to continue for many days and would be an ongoing risk to the general area including possibly the Moriac township. The blacked-out areas were therefore extended further on Saturday and further again on Sunday.

CFA officers, in consultation with the landowner, decided to attempt to extinguish the fire by effectively creating a moat along the upwind part of the main mulch pile and dragging the burning materials into the water using his machinery. The wet residue was then extracted from the moat and relocated onto areas within the firebreak where it was spread, rolled and watered.

This phase of the operation began on Sunday evening and continued all day Monday and Tuesday with brigade trucks on site monitoring the progress.

The fire was declared out at 21:30 on Tuesday, with the main pile now spread and watered. It is now being screened with landowner’s heat probes, and the group thermal imaging camera has also been used to determine any remaining hotspots.

The successful control and monitoring of the fire was due to the rapid response and ongoing commitment by local CFA brigades and district resources including the air wing and strike team from Geelong.

The ability of the landowner to commit suitable heavy machinery was significant in extinguishing this problematic fire, thereby reducing the level of risk to the local community in the shortest possible time.

The operation involved some 1400 CFA volunteer hours with no reported injuries.

Brigades involved:

Modewarre, Winchelsea, Gnarwarre, Wurdale, Barrabool, Freshwater Creek, Deans Marsh, Inverleigh, Wingeel, Belmont, Grovedale, Highton, Geelong West, Geelong City.

Last Updated: 29 January 2018