House fire raises water supply concerns

A HOUSE fire this week has reignited debate about lack of reticulated water supply to semi-rural properties on the north side of Wangoom Road west.

Fire trucks ferried water from a hydrant about half a kilometre away from the weatherboard rental property which was destroyed in minutes by a fierce blaze fanned by strong winds.

Property owners as recently as January rejected proposals to have the city water mains connected.

Fire brigade station officer Grant Kidd also said if the house fire had started during a dry summer the outcome could have been much different.

“We were very lucky. If it was the middle of summer it would have been a different scenario,” he said.

“Not having a reticulated water supply changes the way we go about fighting fires.

“Where water supply is an issue we use tanker relays getting supply from other sources,” Mr Kidd said.

Landholder Brian Hancock, who has grazing property near the houses, said Tuesday’s fire could have swept through to Bushfield with catastrophic results.

“Luckily fire was contained in and around the house, but if paddocks nearby had caught alight the result could have been disastrous and could have taken out a lot of properties,” he said. 

On the south side of Wangoom Road there is an expanding residential precinct with about 900 houses scheduled for the section between Mortlake and Aberline roads — all of which will have reticulated water and sewerage.

However, the northern side is yet to be rezoned and the dozens of homes are on larger semi-rural blocks with rainwater tanks and bores plus septic tanks for sewage.

A water main has already been placed under the road.

In the 1990s Wannon Water and Warrnambool City Council proposed extending reticulated supply to the area, but the majority of property owners declined and the scheme was shelved.

Wannon Water managing director Grant Green told The Standard yesterday the corporation met Wangoom Road landowners again in January this year to discuss a sewerage scheme for the western end.

“Landowners supported extension of the sewer network, but again showed no interest in receiving a reticulated water service,” he said.

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