WIMMERA fire brigades were kept busy at the weekend with three separate haystack fires occurring throughout the region.
A fire started at a Brim property on Friday night, while crews contained two separate haystack fires at Murtoa and Kellalac on Sunday.
Country Fire Authority District 17 operations manager Craig Brittain said all the fires had been caused by spontaneous combustion.
“These incidents are timely reminders for farmers to monitor their stacks on a regular basis,” he said.
“If they get too hot, then they will burn and they could potentially lose the lot. It’s a time to be proactive about monitoring and maintaining the stacks.
“It’s really important that people use whatever equipment they have to monitor them. If a fire spreads from the haystack, then it can do even more damage to properties.”
Mr Brittain said Wimmera fire crews had attended about 10 haystack fires since the start of the year.
“There have also been a few in the Mallee and over the border too,” he said.
He said multiple brigades attended the Brim fire on Friday night, which occurred inside a shed.
“There was a fair amount of hay that was lost. We were working with very heavy equipment, and had water tankers from Hopetoun and Nhill,” he said.
“When a fire occurs inside a shed, there’s a safety issue for our firefighters. Putting out haystack fires is a very long and arduous task; every haystack fire is monitored for the next few days.”
The Murtoa fire was reported in the early hours of Sunday morning and also occurred inside a shed.
“We used equipment to pull it apart and spread it out, but it was all lost. There will be an advice message for smoke in the area for the next few days,” he said.
The fire at Kellalac on Sunday was in the middle of a paddock, with 1060 bales destroyed.
North Wimmera Fire Brigade captain Philip Pietsch attended the incident and said the bales were spread out in five separate stacks.
“There was probably about $250,000 worth of hay destroyed,” he said.
“The fire was contained by crews and we left it to burn out.”
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke, of Murra Warra, attended the fire at Kellalac.
He said although the market had slowed, hay was still worth “good money”. Mr Jochinke also encouraged farmers to be vigilant.
“There’s nothing they can really do once the hay is pressed except monitor it to reduce the risk,” he said.
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