THE only difference between the runaway grassfire which started at Pound Creek last Wednesday afternoon, and the disastrous fires in the state’s south west last week, were the extent of the damage.
In each case, the fires were started by electricity assets, driven on by high winds and dry conditions.
However while the fires around Terang, Gnotuk-Camperdown, Garvoc and Gazette claimed 18 homes, 2600 livestock and 15,000 hectares on 300 farms, the Pound Creek fire was stopped after burning only 40 acres.
But local firefighters are under no illusions that our community dodged a bullet.
Spokesman for the Leongatha South CFA, Hilco Zuidema, whose crew joined the principal brigade, Inverloch, led by incident controller Allan Williamson, said the fire could easily have got away.
“The fire was started by powerlines arching in the area around Duncans Road and the Bass Highway and it was really going when we got there, fanned by strong winds,” said Hilco
“At one stage I was driving along beside the fire, going through the dry grass, and I looked down at my speedo and it was doing better than 20km/h.”
He said the fire jumped the Bass Highway at several places, running in a westerly direction.
“There were 12 CFA appliances and we also got air support. The helicopter would have done a dozen loads which really helped.
“It’s the same thing that happened in the south-west but we were fortunate that we could get on to it in the daylight. It was a major concern don’t worry about that.”
The experience was enough to steel the Leongatha South brigade’s resolve to do something for the farmers in the state’s south-west who were hit by the terrible fire last week.
“That could have been us,” Mr Zuidema said.
“We put out a call for hay and thought we might get 50 or 60 bales for a few loads but we ended up getting 530 bales which was amazing.”