Stop harvesting: Police plead with farmers as fires burn

EMERGENCY services warned Wimmera farmers to stop harvesting on Monday afternoon, after a number of fires broke out across the region.

Headers caused most of the fires.

Horsham Sergeant Mick Salter said police and emergency service leaders pleaded with farmers to stop harvesting.

“We had seven fires going and they were all started by agricultural equipment,” he said,

“Police and CFA resources were being stretched to the limit and we needed them to call it quits.”

He said farmers needed to be more aware of what they could and could not do on total fire ban days or during fire danger periods.

“There are conditions they must abide by,” he said.

“Particularly, agricultural equipment needs to be in good working order.”

During fire danger periods and total fire ban days, machinery can only be used if it is free from faults, fitted with a spark arrester and carries fire suppression equipment such as fire extinguishers.

The Country Fire Authority encourages farmers to postpone machinery work if the fire risk is extremely high.

Driving vehicles through dry vegetation in hot and dry conditions should also be avoided because of the risk posed by a hot exhaust. 

Country Fire Authority District 17 operations manager Dale Russell said the region had prolific crop and grass growth. 

“It is great to see good crops all over the place, but we ask farmers to take precautions and be mindful that their equipment needs to be well maintained,” he said.

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