Grampians fire, Mt Lubra fires compared

A WIMMERA leader believes the Grampians bushfire has become one of many significant fires in the region during the past 15 years.

Horsham Rural City Mayor David Grimble, who is also a Country Fire Authority Grampians group volunteer, worked in operations for the blaze and the 2006 Mt Lubra fire.

The Mt Lubra fire started from lightning in the Grampians and burnt 130,231 hectares in January 2006.

The fire perimeter was 371 kilometres. Two people died in the blaze.

Asset losses included 40 houses, 72 other buildings, 62,600 sheep and 160 cattle.

Cr Grimble said other significant fires in the region had affected Black Range State Park, the Stawell area, Mt Difficult at Laharum, Little Desert National Park and the outskirts of Horsham on Black Saturday.

He said the current fire was a lot smaller than Mt Lubra but was still very large.

"Mt Lubra was a huge fire; it was the biggest ever in the Wimmera," he said.

"Both it and the current fire started from lightning in the Grampians.

"With Mt Lubra, lightning came through and lit a lot of fires. One strike generated into a very significant fire.

"But with the current fire, it was from three lightning fires that merged. Every fire is different."

Cr Grimble said Mt Lubra had a greater impact on private land than the current fire.

"Mt Lubra had a significant impact on private property," he said.

"Two people died and a lot of sheds, farmhouses and private infrastructure were destroyed.

"The fire started in very inaccessible country and developed over the day. Authorities could not actually identify it or reach it.

"The fire developed quickly because of horrendous weather conditions.

"Strong winds meant the fire took off in a big hurry.

"People on the eastern side of the Grampians, when the fire blew out, would have seen fire conditions they will hopefully never see again.

"The current fire did not burn with the ferocity of Mt Lubra; it was nowhere near it."

Cr Grimble said similarities between the two fires included asset protection.

"For Mt Lubra, because it was to impact on private property, we co-ordinated a lot of mineral earth breaks for asset protection around the outside of the Grampians," he said.

"So, when the fire came back at us, we had strategic control points to work from.

"The current fire is similar in regards to our work in preparing and protecting assets ahead of the fire in private country."

Cr Grimble said despite similarities, the current fire and Mt Lubra were different.

"The current fire saw some very erratic fire conditions," he said.

"A lot was due to the fact it was very dry; the bush was tinder dry.

"Mt Lubra would also have been dry, but it had some incredibly strong winds and hot temperatures.

"You could not compare the two fires."

Cr Grimble said one of the lessons learnt from Mt Lubra was how much water was needed for a similar-sized fire.

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