Brigades battle grassfires near Donald

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CFA has led a multi-agency effort including air support, 20 tankers and support vehicles to bring a grassfire near Donald under control.


CFA was first notified just after 3:30pm on Tuesday 20 December to reports of a fast-moving grassfire, which quickly escalated.

District 18 Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Gavin Wright said the fire started in a barley crop and spread into nearby trees, with the total burnt area estimated to be almost 60 hectares.

“Forest Fire Management crews were fast to respond and undertake tree assessments, before arranging to have tree fellers on scene quickly,” ACFO Wright said.

“We also had a number of trucks and crews from brigades in District 16 responding in support.

“This is a great example of a cross border, multi-agency response, with crews on scene working really well together.”

The incident was listed as under control just after 5pm, with crews remaining on scene for a few hours conducting blacking out operations, before handing back to the property owner.

ACFO Wright warned that as the vegetation dries out the fire risk will increase.

“Harvest time can be very dangerous and each season unfortunately we see machinery and vehicles spark fires in different parts of the state,” he said.

“The cause of this fire was determined to be hot sparks from a header working in a paddock. While the header itself didn’t catch fire, a tractor and chase bin were destroyed as it had broken down the day before and was unable to be moved.”

ACFO Wright said fires caused by machinery and harvesting operations can be avoided if farmers and harvest contractors take care and follow the correct practices.

“The key to avoiding harvester fires is diligence. We know farmers will be working extremely hard this season to harvest their crops, but it is important that they consistently clean and maintain their machinery, as well as inspect it thoroughly before and during use,” he said.

“In hot and dry conditions activities such as harvesting, grinding, welding, slashing or mowing can spark fires very easily and they can become dangerous quite quickly.”

CFA reminded farmers to ensure machinery such as headers are routinely maintained, and moving parts and bearings regularly inspected and cleaned.

“It should be part of everyone’s routine to check for straw or grass build-up in machinery, to maintain its spark arrestors, and to take regular breaks when operating machinery to ensure it doesn’t get too hot,” ACFO Wright said.

“Being fire safe on your farm should be part of any fire plan you have.”


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Submitted by CFA Media