Aerial photo of the fire, north west of Fifield that spread from grasses on the property to a nearby forest. Image Contributed.

Looking back: Volunteers vanquish raging fire

By Dominic Geiger

A fire covering almost 600 hectares of land and lasting two days tore through Merndale, a property thirty kilometers north-west of Fifield, in February 2011.
At the peak of the blaze seventy volunteer fire fighters from local and surrounding brigades were required to stop the flames spreading further.
Four fixed wing bomber aircraft and two helicopters were also used in the operation, due to the fire spreading to inaccessible terrain.
Stacy Jarvis, owner of Merndale, said the fire was ironic because workers on the property were in the process of creating fire breaks for controlled burning when the first flames appeared.
“They were slashing prior to ploughing when it started,” she said.
“We’re still unsure about why it started but most likely it was a machinery fault or a spark caused by the slasher hitting a rock.”
Though the fire was quite significant, the efforts of the volunteers ensured that damage was kept to a minimum with only a few fence posts on the property being lost to the blaze.
Stacey said considering the lack of damage the fire was a good training run for the volunteers.
“The support from everyone was wonderful; the only damage was to grass and scrub,” she said.
Ken Neville, Team Manager for the Mid Lachlan Valley Rural Fire Service Team, said he wanted to thank both the volunteer fire fighters and the Lachlan Shire Council for helping to bring the fire under control.
“The brigade was on the scene very quickly,” he said.
“The Lachlan Shire Council was also helpful as it provided graders and bulk water tanks.”

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