The west takes another hit

Member News image Fires in the west. Photo by Nigel Hooke


Only nine days after the Pomonal fire, on Thursday 22 February many communities in the west of the state again faced a serious bushfire emergency.


A Total Fire Ban was declared for six out of nine fire districts because of predicted high temperatures and strong winds, including a late wind change.  

The fire started in bushland near Bayindeen, east of Ararat and quickly spread and began spotting up 10 kilometres ahead of the main fire.  

Emergency warnings were issued in the afternoon and residents in impacted townships were advised to leave. Four relief centres were set up.  

A wind change occurred in late afternoon, which created a larger fire front and threatened more communities and townships.  

By the evening, the fire had grown more than 5,000 hectares. About 1,000 firefighters from CFA, Forest Fire Management Victoria and Fire Rescue Victoria fought the fire on the ground, including CFA strike teams from across the state.  

The ground force was supported by Victorian aerial firefighting aircraft, including the C130 Hercules and the Boeing 737 large air tanker from NSW. The efforts of these waterbombers saved many homes.  

Unfortunately, the fire has destroyed six homes and numerous outbuildings, sheds, fencing and some livestock. The strong southerly wind change pushed the fire to the north overnight, and by 10am Friday morning it had grown to more than 11,000 hectares, and 14,000 by the evening. Today the fire is approximately 21,000 hectares in size.  

Beaufort CFA was recently fighting the bushfires in Pomonal and just over a week later, the brigade was protecting their own community. 

Beaufort Captain Tony Neville said by 10.30am a bushfire had started at Buangor and spot fires were close to Beaufort, at 3pm the wind changed. 

“Once the wind change came through, the fires got progressively worse. We had our own spot fires, fires in Raglan, which is close by and fires burning towards town,” Tony Neville said.  

He said they fought on rough terrain that wasn’t easily accessible, “good for sheep and that’s about it.” 

“I am proud of my members and what they did to fight those fires. We also had a lot of support outside our district. People came up from Gippsland, the Peninsula to Whittlesea and South Morang.” 

CFA members worked tirelessly on the fires over many days.  

Tony said when exhaustion kicks in, you get back up and get back into it.  

“It’s our houses and people we know, that’s ultimately why we do it anyway. It’s not something we do for pats on the back. We choose to do it because we live in the same community as everyone else.” 


Submitted by CFA Media