Don’t wait and see. Leaving late is risky, it means that a drive that normally takes a few minutes could take hours and you may not be able to get out at all.
How many times have you lit a fire heap after a long dry summer, watched it flare up and then die down, and then walked away to do something else? It is very tempting to do this especially if you are next to a ploughed paddock and there has been several days of rain. Fire is a tricky beast and has a mind of its own. The wind can get up and blow embers onto a patch of dry grass and the flames make their way to more dry fuel.
Who knows what happened in this case except that the fire heap was left unattended for a short period and flames made their way to several round bales stacked against the garden fence and beside a shipping container.
As the volunteers who attend this fire know, it takes a long time to put this type of fire out, more than 5 hours of pulling the bales apart and applying water. Mt Egerton Tanker, Ballan Tanker, Ballan Pumper & Mt Wallace Tanker and 11 volunteers were in attendance.
Today Mt Egerton Brigade along with about 13 other appliances attended a fire in a large pile of mulch near Myrniong. It was about as high and as long as a tanker. The fire appears to have started by spontaneous combustion.
Spontaneous combustion fires begin with microbial activity heating up organic material such as mulch or more commonly haystacks or bales. A certain level of moisture needs to be present, heat is then produced as microbes decompose the organic materials.
If the pile size is too large, the pile cannot lose heat as fast as it is generated, and the temperature rises. Under the ‘right’ conditions, the pile can continue to heat to a dangerous level.
Fortunately a thin column of smoke was spotted coming from the mulch pile and crews were quickly on site to cool the heap. The pile was pulled apart and thoroughly wet down.
Here is my list of things to do how does it compare to your list?
On High Fire Danger Days
Add last items to relocation kit and put in the car
Check for leaves around the verandah and in the gutters
Cover clerestory windows
Draught stopper on doors
Ensure vent on the gas bottle is pointing away from the house
Fill bird & pet bowls with water
Have spare hose fittings inside the house
Leave driveway gates open
Leave ladder out
Move fuel to sheds further away from house
Remove door mats, wooden furniture away from the house
Take in boots & brooms inside
Tidy verandah & move combustibles from near windows
Turn off electric fence
Water garden especially around the house
Fire prevention work is ongoing through out the summer, especially if like us you are close to some large gum trees. We have a manna gum that as the weather heats up, sheds long strips of bark. This material just keeps coming so it needs to be relocated away from the house. We also rake around the base of the tree so in case of a fire the flames don’t run up the trunk.
Another job for today was to top up the galvanised buckets that are placed around the verandah so in the worst case scenario we have water and a mop to put out embers.
A big thank you to the Mt Egerton Recreation Reserve Committee and the band Five O’Clock Charlie for the donation to the brigade. The cheque was presented to the brigade this morning. More information is on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mountegertonCFA
The next event at the local recreation reserve is on 26 February.
So far it has been a quiet fire season in our area but you never know when there will be a fire. Yesterday near Heathcote a house,shed and cars were destroyed when a fire started from a lawn mower.
It is not a good idea to leave packing or checking your relocation kit to the last minute. If there is a fire or you are away for the day and get back home due to road closures then it will be too late. I have my kit and photo albums in the car already, just in case.
When it is rainy and cold it is hard to think about getting ready to the fire season, but it will not be long before the weather warms up and things start to dry out. Each year Mt Egerton CFA hosts a workshop to help you plan for the fire season.
This year it the topic will be slightly different and involves a bushfire scenario. The scene will be set and you will decide how you will respond.
It will be a thought provoking role-play and discussion using a hypothetical situation and followed by a free bbq.
10.30am – 12.30pm, Saturday 3 December 2016, Mt Egerton Fire Station,
Main Street Mt Egerton