Volunteers called away from Christmas lunch as fires break out across the region


Volunteer firefighters from across the region were called from their Christmas lunches to fight a 40 hectare fire on George Russell Drive near Canowindra on Sunday.

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By Tanya Marschke

With more hot dry weather predicted, residents across the Central West are being urged to take precautions due to the potential of increased fire danger.

ON ALERT: The Rural Fire Service was called to a small fire at Mullion Creek on Tuesday. Photo: JORDIE IAN GORHAM

ON ALERT: The Rural Fire Service was called to a small fire at Mullion Creek on Tuesday. Photo: JORDIE IAN GORHAM

About a dozen fire crews responded to the Christmas Day fire and although it was the largest, it was only one of several that fire fighters from the Canobolas Zone of the Rural Fire Service were called to on the weekend as a result of a lightning storm last Friday night.

Canobolas Zone operations officer Brett Bowden said although there were plenty of lightening strikes on Friday night, Orange had a reduced chance of the strikes resulting in fires because it was greener and gets more rain than areas to the south and west which were also affected by the storm.

“That lightning storm created havoc for us on Christmas Day,” Mr Bowden said. 

However, he said machinery was still a problem and also caused fires during the Christmas period.

Among them was a fire at Kent Road, Mullion Creek that was caused by a slasher at 1.20pm on Tuesday afternoon and was extinguished by rural fire fighters from Mullion Creek, March and the Orange Molong Road brigades. 

There was also a fire at Yeoval on Tuesday which Mr Bowden said was ignited by a mower.

However, Mr Bowden said the closes fire that volunteers were called to near Orange was at Lidster.

He said due to the number of lightning related fires a volunteer crew drove around for a couple of hours looking for the source of the smoke only to discover that it was a cooking fire.

Mr Bowden said when it came to using lawn mowers and slashers at this time of year people should use them either early in the morning or later in the evening.

He said people should also avoid using power tools such as angle grinders, which he called the “best fire starters around”.

“We had an extremely busy Christmas period from Friday right through to Tuesday looking at 15 individual jobs,” he said.

About 40 brigades responded to the fires which included six jobs on Saturday alone and included blazes at Mandurama, north of Cowra and east of Cowra. There are currently 80 brigades in the region with 2200 volunteers.