Coreen fire threatened homes

By Rhys Williams

Close to 150 firefighters worked tirelessly to battle an out of control blaze at Coreen last Thursday which threatened nearby homes.

Three aeroplanes, which included a Hercules Bomber from Canberra, were called in to assist with the out of control blaze at Woodlawn Road after the inferno had ravaged over 250 hectares of land in only a few hours.

NSW RFS Southern Border Team Captain, Greyd’n Davis said firefighters arrived at the scene at approximately 1.30pm with the grassfire already burning forcefully.

“Once we arrived the blaze was fairly frightening,” he told The Free Press.

“There were flames in excess height of 50 feet. They were higher than the gumtrees on both sides of the road at one stage.”

The NSW RFS issued a Watch and Act to Lowesdale, Buraja and other surrounding rural properties and NSW Police closed the Riverina Highway at Federation Way, and at Bull Plains Road and Redlands Road.

Concerns of the fire jumping the Riverina Highway prompted the NSW RFS to call in the planes to ensure homes could be kept in safe guard.

“Once we had grave concerns for it jumping the Riverina Highway and we had multiple houses and sheds under threat, the button was pushed for the aviation to come in and assist,” Cpt Davis said.

“There were five homes which were under direct threat.

“It got within a couple of kilometres of two homes and if the fire had of jumped the Riverina Highway, those homes would have been engulfed. But luckily the fire was pulled up about a kilometre away from the highway.”

NSW Police alerted threatened properties and their fire plans were implemented.

Lowesdale School was contacted by the Rural Fire Service as a precaution and firefighters worked with the school to ensure it was protected and bus services were able to get the children home as usual.

The RFS said the fire was contained by about 4pm but Coreen station still has firefighters patrolling the area of the fire to monitor it while it burns out.

The grass fire started after a large pile of timber that was burnt earlier in the season became reignited.

Capt Davis warned that extra precautions be taken if residents have their own piles of timber and implored everyone to have a strict fire safety plan in place as we brace for what forebodes to be a trying fire season.

 “We’re drying off, we’ve getting very low moisture levels in the ground and we have a long prognosis of very hot and dry weather, so it all adds up to creating difficult conditions if and when we have a problem like we did on Thursday.

“The situation is quite dire. I couldn’t understate just how serious it could get if things go wrong. It’s imperative now more than ever to have a fire safety plan in place.

“Whether it’s having your own firefighting capacity or whether you know whether to stay and defend or leave – have some kind of clear and definitive course of action.”

Capt Davis extended his gratitude to all the brave firefighters who assisted with containing the fire.

“I’d like to say a heartfelt thanks to all the firefighters that assisted in pulling up the fire on Thursday – there were some pretty gutsy efforts to get in and get it done.”