Harvesting sparks fires: More than 100 hectares burnt

MORE than 100 hectares of Wimmera crops burned on Monday as harvesting sparked fires.

Crops near Nhill, Grass Flat, Netherby, Sheep Hills, Rupanyup and Kellalac went up in smoke.

A Jung family almost lost their home to a fast-moving fire near Banyena Road.

Fire-fighters saved their house.

Kalkee farmers along Blue Ribbon Road lost 100 hectares of crop in the day’s largest fire.

District 17 Country Fire Authority duty officer Peter Bell said harvesting operations caused all the fires.

“The Kalkee fire had the potential to devastate some unstripped crops,” he said.

“It went through a couple of properties.”

But he said quick and hard-hitting fire-fighting tactics on the ground and in the air kept damage to a minimum.

“It was a credit to District 17 volunteers,” Mr Bell said.

All the fires were supported by fire-fighting aircraft.

“We had automatic air support from Casterton, Hamilton and Sea Lake,” Mr Bell said.

“It was welcome news, when fire-fighters on the ground saw aircraft coming in.”

Another property was threatened by a fire sparked after a ute driving near Murtoa lost a rear wheel and part of its axle.

Murtoa Senior Constable Kerryn Blair said a Bendigo man, 23, had been driving from Bendigo along the Wimmera Highway when his 1993 Holden Rodeo ute’s rear wheel and axle fell off.

“The heat caused some sparks,” Sen Const Blair said.

The driver pulled over straight away.

He noticed a small grass fire, and tried to put it out with his work pants.

But Sen Const Blair said a gust of wind fanned the flames into a nearby wheat crop.

“About 25 hectares burned,” she said.

Country Fire Authority fire-fighters were able to stop the flames before they reached a house.

“The owners weren’t home – they got back just as the CFA finished putting the fire out,” Sen Const Blair said.

Nine fire tankers and air support helped extinguish a fire that consumed about 10 hectares of lentil crops near Rupanyup.

Fire-fighters were called to a fire at Burrum North Road about 3.50pm.

Efforts to extinguish the fire continued until 8.55, when it was declared safe.

District 17 Country Fire Authority duty officer Peter Bell said the fire was caused by harvesting.

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