ALERT LEVEL: Advice
LOCATION: Old Kangaloon Rd Burrawang
COUNCIL AREA: Wingecarribee
STATUS: Being Controlled
TYPE: Grass fire
SIZE: 11 ha
RESPONSIBLE AGENCY: Rural Fire Service
UPDATED: 19 Jan 2013 10:11
That is from the RFS "Current Fires and Incidents" web page.
This is my own "home made map of the area of the fire (as best I can gauge it after a visual inspection).
Well, this may well have started as a grass fire, and it was handled initially (and very quickly) by the RFS people. But it is now a fire in the peat bed in the swamp in the upper reaches of the Wingecarribbee Swamp.
It is now being attended to by Sydney Catchment Authority officers.
Problem is peat fires, no matter how small, are difficult to extinguish, because, there is little free oxygen available to the fire, so it smoulders. But the heat generated within the base of the fire is considerable. So, normal amounts of water from small fire hoses tend to simply cause the water to vapourise, not quench the fire.
The good thing is that the grass (from which the fire started) has burnt already. So, there is little risk of this fire spreading to unburnt grass - which is what concerns the local residents and farmers who live adjacent to the top end of the Wingecarribee Swamp and the railway line which leads into Robertson.
My friends Alan and Louise who live on the western edge of Robertson, saw smoke coming from the direction of the Swamp, and "called it in" to 000.
Within minutes of their call having been registered, they saw the first of the local RFS vehicles leave the base, and head towards the fire. Subsequently some 4 other RFS teams arrived (from the South Coast and maybe other areas in the Southern Highlands), and several small Helicopters, and one large water bomber.
The result is that the grass fire was contained very quickly. A good thing, given the record breaking heat of yesterday and the strong north-westerly winds.
It just remains for the fire, which has now caught alight in the peat bed, to be extinguished. That may take some time. But as I have already indicated,. I believe the risk of spreading to adjacent areas of long grass, and to other farms, or to residential areas on Robertson is low. Simply because the highly flammable grasses have already burnt. The Peat Fire is within an area where the long grass has already been burnt out.
|My first view of the fire|
Blackened grass, smoke and yellow-clad fire-fighters
|A closer view smoke rising from the peat bed|
which is at the top end of the
|A team of SCA vehicles and fire fighters|
|A closer view.|
|An SCA officer trying to spray the peat fire|
with a small hose, fed from a pump on the
back of the Utility Vehicle.
|A distant view.|
Looking towards the hills of Kangaloon
from the Wingecarribee Swamp area,
below Burrawang Station Lane.
Alan is not someone who is given to "false praise". He has some on-going issues with the Council people who have not responded well to his many requests for intervention regarding the Robertson Sewerage Scheme, and the damage done to local properties by Lucas Engineering, and the Council's failure to ensure that simple matters of damage to a local farmer's fences and dams (both of which are vital in the event of a grass fire).
But today he was singing the praises of the volunteers of the RFS. And I agree entirely.
It is Volunteers who are keeping this country running, because Governments by and large have lost control of the myriad of responsibilities they have taken on. So, the local people step in to try and prevent a catastrophe.