Faulty windmill blamed for grassfire

A DEFECTIVE windmill is likely to have set off a lightning-speed grass fire that threatened to burn out of control at Garvoc yesterday afternoon.

Firefighters from the Dixie brigade were monitoring a newly-extinguished hay bale fire south-west of Terang when they noticed a plume of smoke rising from paddocks less than two kilometres from the scene.

The group of about nine officers rushed to the other fire which was rapidly approaching a native tree plantation and a cattle herd on the opposite side.

Camperdown CFA group officer Chris Place said firefighters have been based in Garvoc since Friday afternoon after dozens of hay bales spontaneously combusted due to the extreme heat. 

He said once the brigade arrived at the windmill-sparked fire, they managed to get the blaze under control only 200 or so metres away from a plantation.

“If it got into the trees, it would have been unstoppable,” Mr Place said.

“The Dixie brigade just managed to pull it up in time. 

“They were pretty much out of water by the time the brigade from Terang were on the scene (less than 10 minutes later) but everyone was pretty switched on and knew they had to get it under control quickly.”

Brigade members later identified the windmill at the source of the blaze which burnt several acres. 

A crowbar was inserted into the structure in order to prevent the blade frame rubbing against the main frame.

Colac CFA operations manager Nick Brown said metal-on-fire conducted fires were reasonably uncommon with windmills rarely sparking blazes.

He said it was fortunate the Dixie brigade were in the vicinity of the other fire on a day he described as “one of the worst of the fire season so far.”

“We were really lucky that the brigade were so close to the fire at the time. It could have been a lot worse,” Mr Brown said.

“Our people in the watchtower are pretty quick in identifying fires but nothing beats having someone on-scene in the least amount of travelling time.”

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