Brigades battle burn-offs

A firefighter attacks a fire in a tree hollow at Ashbourne. Photo: Ethan Brown

Fire brigades across the region have been kept busy bringing escaped fires under control over the past fortnight.
In one incident last Friday morning, a contract slasher working to create a fire break sparked a grassfire at Baringhup when the equipment struck granite.
Baringhup Fire Brigade captain Brendan McKnight said striking granite was almost 100 per cent guaranteed to start a fire.
“It was very close to a house and shed – a bit of an anxious moment,” he said.
The fire burnt about an acre but local brigades quickly brought it under control.
During last Thursday’s severe fire conditions, Castlemaine, Metcalfe, Chewton and Elphinstone were part of the Mount Alexander strike team that helped extinguish a blaze threatening several homes at Mt Glasgow near Clunes.
A strike team of five trucks including Campbells Creek, Guildford and Maldon brigades assisted in battling that blaze, which involved two fire fronts, with several houses in the line of fire.
A grassfire also flared up at Harcourt when a burn-off got out of control on Reservoir Road and another fire took hold in a tree on Mount Alexander, Harcourt, when a camp fire escaped control.
Several old burn-offs also reignited in the Macedon Ranges during last Thursday’s severe fire conditions, and again on Sunday when a fire in a forested area at Ashbourne posed significant danger.
Woodend captain Mike Dornau said Sunday’s incident was yet another example of “a burn-off done badly”.
“(The property owner) had lit this fire near the old burn and gone off to light another one and by the time they came back it had taken off,” Mr Dornau said.
“It was spreading into the bush and had the potential to get much worse so I made the call to ‘make tankers 10’.
“Woodend, Tylden and Trentham hit it hard before the other tankers arrived and it took us about 45 minutes to knock it down (hit the edges so it’s under control) and with the help of the other tankers, all up it took three hours to fully extinguish it. We were also helped by a nearby landowner who had a large excavator that we brought it to break up the big logs.”
Mr Dornau urges residents to know exactly what they can can and can’t do during the fire danger period now in place.
“The fire restrictions have come in and there’s a darned good reason for it, and ignorance is no excuse,” he warned.
“The CFA and Macedon Ranges Council websites have all the information people need. Brigades will no longer be tolerant. The police will be called.”