Praise for ‘angel’ firefighters


Photographer Nigel Hallett’s view from Birregurra’s McDonnells Road of a helicopter as it dumps water on a 250-hectare grassfire.

FIREFIGHTERS who helped save Birrregurra’s historic Mooleric homestead from a 250-hectare fire this week are “angels”, the homestead’s manager says.

Brian Stevens said he and other workers were in the homestead’s garden when they saw a “big plume of smoke”.

“We were very, very lucky when they turned up when they did,” Mr Stevens said of firefighters.

“They’re bloody angels, they’re terrific men and women,” he said.

“It got right up to the homestead.”

Mr Stevens said the homestead’s staff prevented the fire from spreading into 300 hay bales close to the home.

“We never lost any of our animals, we opened gates up and I got 150 cattle up on the hill out of harm’s way,” he said.

“It’s just a mess, just disheartening to look at all, but everyone’s all right, no-one hurt.”

Country Fire Authority incident controller Mark Gunning said machinery started the blaze near McDonnells and Mooleric roads at Birregurra.

Mr Gunning said firefighters would further examine the use of machinery and “whether that was lawful”.

“The fire built very, very quickly and went very hard through some very thick grass,” he said.

“It took a while to bring under control, there was some good saves – the fire threatened the Mooleric homestead.”

Mr Gunning said farmers lost stock including sheep in the blaze.

Twenty-two firetrucks, the Helitak Skycrane helicopter and two water bombers fought the blaze on Wednesday afternoon and into the evening.

About 70 CFA and Department of Environment and Primary Industries crewed trucks and an incident control centre during the firefight.

Fire authorities issued an emergency warning for residents of Ricketts Marsh during the height of the fire.

Mr Gunning said workers felled dangerous trees and continued to black-out the edges of the fire yesterday.

He said people should remain vigilant despite the weather cooling.

“We’ve still got a lot of dry grass around, just becomes we’ve had cooler conditions, people need to realise that when the grass is that dry, you’ve still got to take great care,” Mr Gunning said.

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