A wedge-tailed eagle sitting on a powerline sparked a paddock fire on a Panmure dairy farm on Monday.
Farmer Peter Moir had almost finished milking his cows about 5.45pm when he heard the wind change and popped his head outside the dairy to check it out and noticed a puff of white smoke.
With winds gusting at up to 50 km/h, he immediately called 000, cleared the cows out of the way and by then Panmure fire brigade had arrived.
By the time they’d reached the fire, which was about 800 metres from the dairy and his house, the fire had already burnt across the paddock to the dirt track.
And while the willow trees on the other side of the track were scorched by the heat, firefighters were able to stop the blaze from spreading to the next paddock or the Framlingham Forest which was about 1km away.
“It was just lucky the track had pulled it up and the Panmure tanker stopped it there.”
Another six or eight tankers and bomber planes from Hamilton helped bring it under control within 45 minutes.
“It was just unusual the way it burnt because it was an easterly wind. If it had been a northerly wind it would have blown to the houses or dairy,” Mr Moir said.
“It just shows how easily it can happen on a day you wouldn’t expect.
“If it had been 32 degrees instead of 22 degrees they would have been at the neighbour’s place to stop it before it reached the bush.”
The fire brought back memories of the January 10 Framlingham Forest fire that burnt the western boundary of his property 11 years ago.
The eagle, which was found dead in the paddock, was believed to have hit the powerline and sparked the blaze.
Mr Moir said that there had been a breeding pair of wedge-tailed eagles that had lived in a big gum tree on the edge of the Framlingham Forest for more than 20 years.
And even though that tree was burnt in the fire a decade ago, the eagles could be seen every two years flying around the area with their young. “We’re just hoping it’s not one of the breeding pair,” Mr Moir said.
Mr Moir said he was impressed with how well organised the CFA was and how quickly they contained the blaze.
Crews spent two hours mopping up after the blaze and Mr Moir spent the night regularly checking on it, including getting up at 4am.
“All farmers do, you feel a responsibility even though there’s no fault or blame anywhere. Then you think sure I could have rolled over and slept til 6.30am and then got up. If I hadn’t got up two hours before and it had flared up and all of a sudden my neighbour’s place is on fire because I didn’t check it….that’s what you do.”
Region 5 operations operations manager Richard Bourke said the rapid response from the brigades and planes helped contain the blaze to under five hectares.